September 13, 2008


The contradictions behind the scenes in the sport of sumo are playing themselves out in the media, as Wakanoho, a foreign-born wrestler, sues for reinstatement in the sport after having been fired for pot possession.

His complaint is that wrestlers have done far worse things and continued to participate in sumo. He's right, of course, but that doesn't matter. He seems ungrateful that his position in sumo spared him a prison sentence. He seems unremorseful that his behavior caused others to lose their jobs (his oyokata and a high official in the sumo association). And he's putting foreign rikishi and sumo in general in a bad light.

Hinkaku is a word that is invoked in the world of sumo. It's a specific kind of grace or dignity that is required of a sumo wrestler in larger quantities he attains higher rank in the sport. Some believe that foreigners are not capable of this quality. Don't look for it in Wakanoho any time soon.

Using his current spotlight to bring reform to sumo would be a selfless and redemptive act.

But suing his way back in on the "you're as dirty as I am" defense is not.

More as it develops.

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