International Founder –
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
by Eric Blair
to bring the world together on the same dohyo would be just a dream.
Non? Whatsmore, if 1992 is (it was) the date the first amateur world
championships took place and now knowing 2006 to be the 15th
anniversary of the founding of the Internet, perhaps talk of
coincidence here would be stretching things just a little bit too far.
N’est-ce pas? That said, I’m sure some will try giving the
IOC-registered date for the foundation of the ISF as being in the late
1940s! A topic for another piece, methinks.
Into the world of sumo fandom now, and still online of course, half a year after that first amateur world event that oddly enough saw Nippon claim every gold medal in both individual and team events, and one of the earliest signs of sumo on the WWW can be found on the once majestic list of SML archives at www.banzuke.com Dated Wednesday, May 26th 1993, it talks about some of the basic rules of sumo. Sadly, today - thirteen years on - the SML, although still there – just - is dying a slow death. It can still be seen chugging along from time to time, like that tired old first motor car you had that really needed a one way trip to the local breaker’s yard, but more often stays silent for days on end, its parts gradually rusting and seizing up.
Giving credit where credit is due though, the SML was the lone sumo list that essentially ‘carried’ the sport single handed to the outside world in the 1990s. Problem is – the 1990s are history. Times change, but the SML hasn’t.
| Without the Internet the sport of sumo outside Japan would largely be dead in international waters.
No puns on Japanese, Korean and/or Chinese territorial claims intended here, but take away the system on which you are reading this article and it is doubtful that sumo would be known too far beyond shores a la japonais. Dusty books, out of date soon after going into print, would carry the message a ways, but not even a full tenth of the present day interest generated by fan-based sites such as Sumo Forum (SF), Sumo Mailing List (SML) and, err hem, of course, Sumo Fan Magazine would exist were it not for the aforementioned Sir Tim, his lab near Geneva in Switzerland and the date -– 6 August 1991, the combination of which resulted in the world’s biggest library-cum-playground; the Internet.
The professional sport would still be there of course: sumo would still be sumo with mawashi, henka and salt chucking all being recounted on NHK in dry monotone and repetitive English or Japanese, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the European and Mongolian brethren wouldn’t be so effectively clogging up the makunouchi arteries by preventing local advancement as
||they do today.
How would Kotooshu and his EU region buddies, amateur coaches, et al have learnt about sumo were it not via the net? Would we all be frothing at the mouth over the prospect of Baruto next time out being positioned just below sanyaku and set to take on Asashoryu and all the ozeki in the first week of the Aki Basho? Probably not. Would we even know the names Baruto and Asashoryu? Depends upon where you live, I guess, but I’d wager an Eastwood-sized fistful of dollars that many ‘fans’ outside Japan today would be looking elsewhere for their sporting pleasure – somewhere closer to home and at a sport covered in their local media.
So many “ifs” and “ands” I will admit, but let’s “if” and “and” a bit more. For the sake of labs and scientists, and out of respect for Sir Tim, let’s don a white coat and ask more questions than we answer. And, while I’m at it, I’ll throw in a bit of French to please those in Geneva who don’t bother with English – but only a tad.
If the amateur sumo global body that is the International Sumo Federation were an Internet free zone, they would have no simple method of organizing its global events, and sumo as an