In the past decade, Japanese sumo wrestlers have lost a grip on their own sport. This month marks seven years since a Japanese wrestler won a grand championship which are held six times a year. This has never happened before.
There was a full house at the RyogokuKokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo on the first day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament. But some fans were lamenting this slump.
It’s so unfortunate that the Japanese haven’t been winning. Considering that sumo is the national sport, it’s a bit embarrassing.
The reason behind this has to do with the big influx of Mongolian and eastern European wrestlers who handily outmaneuver and overpower their Japanese opponents. So much so that it’s been ten years since there was a Japanese champion.
Though some say there’s still reason to be optimistic. The foreign domination in the top division is just that: in the top division only. In perhaps 5,6,7 years, that will all be gone. The guys are getting older, they’re going to start retiring now and there are not that many young foreign people with talent coming through. So sumo goes through cycles and this is just one of the cycles.
A cycle that unleashed Hakuho, one of two current Mongolian grandchampions who’s among the top wrestlers of all time. Many say foreign competitors like him are more driven.
Wrestlers from abroad work really hard. They’re determined to move up. They’re hungry, aren’t they? But Japanese wrestlers seem satisfied with just getting by. It would be nice if they pushed themselves harder.
For now, looks like fans will just have to keep waiting for that next hungry homegrown wrestler to rise up and take hold once again.