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SOS - Shinjinrui on Sumo
Chris Gould
Chris sinks his teeth deeper into how sumo can go about pulling in the younger fans in part two of a three-part series.
Azumazeki up close and personal
Steven Pascal-Joiner / William Titus
A wiz with a pen and a wiz with a lens get together with SFM to share their time with Azumazeki Oyakata - Takamiyama as was - with the wider sumo following world.
Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda takes a detailed look at the life and times of a former yokozuna forgotten by many - Maedayama.
Eric Evaluates
Eric Blair
Eric calls the musubi-no-ichiban kimarite call on nakabi in Kyushu as perhaps only he could.
Heya Peek
Jeff Kennel
First time heya visitor Jeff Kennel wrote about, photographed and even made a video of his time spent at Arashio Beya prior to the Kyushu Basho. All to be found within.
SFM Interview
Mark Buckton
Mark interviews Russian up and comer Wakanoho of Magaki Beya.
Photo Bonanzas
See behind the scenes at the Kyushu Basho, morning training in Arashio Beya through the eyes of an artist and exactly what the Azumazeki lads had to eat halfway though the July Nagoya Basho. All originals, all seen here and nowhere else, and all for you.
Kyushu Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon wraps the Kyushu Basho in Fukuoka and throws in some henka sighting results for good measure.
Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
The lower divisions, their members and results get the once over thanks to Mikko's eyeing of life down below the salaried ranks.
Hatsu Ones To Watch
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn ponders and puts fingers to keys on the ones to watch come January and the Hatsu Basho.
Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko's latest clarification of a handful of sumo's kimarite offers unequalled analysis and in depth explanations.
Amateur Angles
Howard Gilbert
Howard looks at makushita tsukedashi and what it means in real terms.
Kokugi Konnections
Todd Lambert
Click on Todd's bimonthly focus on three of the best sumo sites online.
Fan Debate
Facilitators - Lon Howard / Carolyn Todd
Two SFMers talk over the yokozuna benefiting from weak opposition - or not as the case may be.
SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
In this issue's cartoon bonanza, sit back and sample Stephen's artistic offerings.
Sumo Odds ’n’ Ends
SFM's interactive elements including Henka Sightings, Elevator Rikishi and Eternal Banzuke!
Lets Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? Starting with issue #10, the SFM staff will reveal a little of their own routes into sumo fandom - starting with Benny Loh.
Readers' Letters
See what our readers had to say since we last hit your screens.
Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

Asashoryu's dominance is
due to weak opposition –
Yea or Nay
Facilitated by Carolyn Todd

I believe the above figures clearly establish the dominance of Asashoryu since winning his first yusho. However, if we look at the figures a little more closely, they reveal another side to the equation – namely, the lack of competition that the yokozuna has had.

I was surprised to find  that
Asashoryu never competed against another yokozuna during these 24 basho since he won his first yusho. Now, of course, he has been the sole yokozuna since Musashimaru’s retirement in November 2003 (Kyushu Basho). So, for seven of those 24 basho Asashoryu could have met Musashimaru but did not because of injury to the big Hawaiian. In the first two of those 24 basho Asashoryu could have been expected to meet another yokozuna, Takanohana, but injury also kept him from the dohyo. What this has meant is that during Asashoryu’s period of dominance, he has not had to fight against an equal or a superior to win the yusho. None of this is his fault, of course, and who is to say that Asashoryu would not have beaten the two yokozuna in the twilight of their careers. As I said before, I am not saying that Asashoryu is not good, only that he has not been tested and his opposition is weak.

LH: I’m beginning to think that Howard and I may not be as far apart as I thought…but we’ll see.  It’s important to establish at the outset that we’re not only asking if Asashoryu’s opposition is weak – questionable in itself – but we’re further asking for evidence showing that is why


Directly after the Aki Basho ended, a frustrated Kokonoe oyakata exclaimed that yokozuna Asashoryu won because everyone around him was "so damn weak" (a translation). In doing so, he publicized a sentiment that many have expressed for well over a year. Some have asserted that this statement could have been made after many of the yokozuna's 18 yusho, citing that he has effectively been a lone yokozuna from the beginning, among other things. This Debate has been growing plump on the vine for a while, and now the oyakata has given us a sign to pluck it off.

Frankly, identifying those who would carry the banner for either side has been challenging, so for this forum it will come down to two of SFM's own number. Staff writer Howard Gilbert believes that Asashoryu's bulging bag of yusho is in fact due to a weakened cast of aite, and Editor Lon Howard will do his best to say otherwise. Howard, as many of you know, resides in Auckland, New Zealand, while Lon lives in the U.S. near Seattle, WA. More on them can be found in SFM's Staff Profiles.

Regardless of where one stands, this is not a cut and dried issue, but since it's on so many lips, we'll explore it as best we can. So Howard, to get us going, please tell us why you feel that Asashoryu has been so fortuitous?

HG: Thank you, Carolyn. Let me begin by saying that I am not questioning Asashoryu’s ability in any way. He is the yokozuna, and fully deserves that title. He has proven his ability to win day after day, and to win yusho as well. Quite simply, he is the best at this time. However, what I am arguing is that Asashoryu’s current dominance of ozumo is based not only on his extraordinary ability, but also on the fact that those around him are currently far from impressive.

Yes, Asashoryu would still win some yusho (as a yokozuna is expected to do), but we have been in a situation for the past two or three years where the likelihood of another rikishi winning the yusho seems almost non-existent. I believe that this is because of other rikishi’s failings rather than simply explaining it as Asashoryu’s brilliance alone.

Asashoryu has won 18 yusho prior to the 2006 Kyushu Basho, and having won three this year. However, the utter dominance of Asashoryu was seen in 2004 and 2005, when he won 11 of the 12 yusho, only missing out on September 2004 when he was a disappointing 9-6 after doing little preparation for the basho. Indeed, his 18 yusho have been achieved in just 24 basho since he won his first yusho as an Ozeki at the 2002 Kyushu Basho. So, in four years Asashoryu has won three quarters of all the basho.


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