Amateur Sumo – the sport as it should be
Mark Buckton
Sakai World Sumo Champs – not all about winning

Las Vegas Koen
Joe Kuroda
Our man reports from the fight capital of the world

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
A look at a rikishi of yesterday with Kotozakura – our man for October

Heya Peek
John Gunning
John’s early morning dash to Azumazeki-beya & report on TKOTU

SFM Interview
Katrina Watts sits down with SFM’s Mark Buckton to discuss amateur sumo

Photo Bonanza
SFM’s best yet – Aki Basho/ Las Vegas / Amateur World Champs / Azumazeki-beya visit – seen nowhere else

Aki Basho Review
Lon Howard
Lon gives us his Aki Basho summary, along with the henka sightings results, and his take on the tournament while ‘gem’ of the basho takes a break

Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
Mikko Mattila returns to cover lower division ups and downs

Kyushu Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton
Pierre predicts the Kyushu Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein
Discovers and explains amasumo & ozumo variations

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko once again walks us through his chosen kimarite

John McTague
John’s unique bimonthly view of news from outside the dohyo

Online Gaming
Zenjimoto of ‘game fame’ covers some of the very best sumo games around – his own!

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Todd’s focus on 3 of the most interesting online sumo sites today

Fan Debate
Is the limit on foreign rikishi fair? See what our debaters had to say

SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh
In the first of our cartoon bonanzas, sit back and chuckle at Benny Loh’s offerings

Let’s Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? Gernobono tells all

Readers’ Letters
See what SFM readers had to say since our last issue

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.


Fan Debate:
Yea or Nay

Facilitated by Lon Howard

ST: The one foreign rikishi per heya rule seems not so outlandish to me. It’s up to the Kyokai to decide what’s best for its sport. It’s none of my business, really. It all comes down to subjective views in the end, and I accept in advance that I will probably be in the minority not taking umbrage about the ruling. I just enjoy sumo and I enjoy watching it as a tradition-fueled and Japanese sport with mainly Japanese participants. I would prefer personally to not have the sport eclipsed by too many foreigners, regardless of their skill levels. At present, sumo is for me a great oddity and splendid spectacle whose Japanese content under girds something very special in the World which appeals to me…sometimes I can’t quite find words why. I hope the embedded rule-makers within the Kyokai withstand the ‘flavour-of-the-month’ pressure to have more foreign rikishi until their fortress is over-run by gangs of street brawlers like Kokkai (as he currently displays himself to be – although there’s hope yet). In the meantime, I say let’s just all enjoy what we’ve got happening in this wonderful sport and let the rikishi be the ones to ‘get hot under the collar (or mawashi)’ on the dohyo.

LH:I find much to agree with in what you have said. Of course, it is up to the Kyokai to decide

Next Home

Recently, the Nihon Sumo Kyokai instituted a rule limiting each heya to one rikishi who is not a Japanese citizen, with an exception granted to those heya that already had more than one. Most of the English speaking sumo fans who have chosen to sound off on the rule have been very critical of it, while those who support the rule generally say that sumo needs it to maintain its Japanese fan base. Among other things, we have wondered if there could be a ‘mostly silent majority’ of English speakers who also support the Kyokai’s stand, so we’ll use this forum to attempt to find out.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the fans who intended to hold this discussion couldn’t complete the debate, so two of our own staff with genuinely opposing views agreed to step in to give both sides of this issue a fair hearing.

Supporting the Kyokai is Cartoonist Stephen Thompson, more commonly known as Boltono/Boltbutthamma in online sumo gaming circles. He by no means claims to be an authority on things sumo, but has been an avid fan for around 15 years and, as such, has some opinions which he likes to hold to unless or until convinced otherwise. Originally from the UK and currently living in SE Asia, Stephen is able, via satellite, to see the action and to cheer on his favorites, some of whom are foreign rikishi like Kyokushuzan and Ama.

A critic of the rule is Fan Liaison Director Lon Howard. Lon says he has followed sumo on and off since 1963. He is retired, living near Seattle, WA, USA with his Japanese-born wife and watches sumo action by taping NHK’s telecast on Dish Network's TV Japan package. He says he admires sumo’s ritual and traditions, even the Shinto trappings, and prefers that rikishi observe all the decorum normally expected, but feels in this case that the Sumo Kyokai is shooting itself in the foot with the implementation of this rule.

LH:Stephen, most of the English speaking sumo fans that have chosen to speak out on

this rule have been very critical but you don't have a problem with it. Why not?
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