Sumo's Foreign Invasion

Mark Buckton
Sumo - still Japanese or truly International?

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
A look at a rikishi of yesteryear with Umegatani II our man for June

Heya Peek
John Gunning
John attends asageiko at Takasago-beya to give us the first of his bimonthly looks at sumo's stables

Photo Bonanza
Kurt Easterwood & Quinlan Faris
Kurt & Quin treat us to some of the best sumo pics around - and seen nowhere else

May Basho Review
Lon Howard & John Gunning
Lon gives us his Natsu Basho summary and his take on upset of the tournament while John chips in with his 'gem' of the basho

Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila

Mikko provides his round up of the boys in Makushita and below at the Natsu Basho

July Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton

Pierre predicts the Nagoya Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein

Rhyme and reason behind the pre-tachiai rituals that mystified us all as beginners

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko walks us through A, B & C

John McTague

John's unique view of news from outside the dohyo

Las Vegas Jungyo Teaser
Ngozi Robinson
Months away but like kids at Christmas we are still too excited not to mention it

Online Gaming
Moti Dichne
Hear from the founder of Guess the Banzuke (GTB) on exactly what makes it tick

Le Monde Du Sumo
The original team at MDS tells us how it all started

Sumo Mouse
Todd Lambert
Heya Links Galore and a focus on 3

Fan Debate
JR & EB square off: Right or Left - which should Asashoryu use when receiving kensho?

Let's Hear from You
What was it that made you a sumo fan?

Ngozi Asks
Question of the month - What is Sumo?

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster

Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho's banzuke

Sumo's Foreign Invasion

by Mark Buckton

mawashi in late 1997.

Perhaps it was Konishiki’s fracturing of the ice that had re-formed since the early 70s and the time of Takamiyama, but whatever the reason, the late 1980s and the whole of the 90s saw a particularly large influx of non-Japanese wanting to make a name for themselves in ozumo.

Sri Lanka, England, Brazil and Argentina were all nations once represented on the banzuke (Brazil still is), but it was the Pacific islands that were predominantly turning out the lion’s share of those rikishi still worthy of mention over a decade later.  Akebono and Musashimaru, names that need no introduction in sumo circles of the present day, entered their respective stables (Azumazeki - run by the former Takamiyama for Akebono, and Musashigawa for Musashimaru) within 18 months of each other; Akebono in the spring of 1988 and Musashimaru in the autumn of the following year.

Achieving something no other wholly non-Asian rikishi had ever been able to do, the pair excelled and Akebono was
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SUMO – On the 33rd anniversary of the sport’s entrance onto the world stage.

On the final day of the 1972 Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, the intrinsically Japanese sport of sumo changed forever. It became international.

As then maegashira 4e Takamiyama of Takasago-beya held the Emperor’s Cup, won with a 13-2 record, he did so as the first sekitori in history without oriental blood flowing through his veins.

Having arrived in Japan some 8 years earlier as a nervous 19-year-old, the 192cm Takamiyama, real name Jesse Kuhaulua, was quite literally breaking new ground with each victory he achieved on the dohyo and was the only international flag bearer of the time.

In rounding off a two-decade career in which he participated in 97 makunouchi tournaments (28 more than the legendary Taiho), Jesse had a fierce desire

to succeed.  This he did with his never-say-die attitude that pried open Japanese minds to the concept of foreigners taking part in their national sport – and the then unthought-of eventuality of them walking off with the Emperor’s Cup on a regular basis. It was Jesse who introduced the world to sumo and sumo to the world 33 years ago next month.

Takamiyama’s lone tournament success notwithstanding, it was another 20 years before sumo’s premier trophy started to be presented to the imported rikishi more frequently. Come the mid-eighties, the now world famous Konishiki, also of Takasago-beya, was the best foreigner in sumo at the time, although his career topped out at ozeki. Almost securing yokozuna rank on several occasions, Konishiki flew the foreign flag proudly until mid-1992, when his excessive poundage got the better of him. Inevitably, injuries teamed up to send him down the rankings before he finally hung up his

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