[sumo] Question somewhat related to death of rikishi

Doreen Simmons jz8d-smmn at asahi-net.or.jp
Sat Jun 30 04:20:55 EDT 2007

On 2007/06/30, at 12:51, Mike Charlton wrote:

> On 6/29/07, Doreen Simmons <jz8d-smmn at asahi-net.or.jp> wrote:
>> Most of them are not 'grossly obese'
> I totally agree with you, but just to head off any potential arguments,
> many statistics involving obesity use BMI (Body Mass Index) 
> measurements.
> By those measurements (a ratio of height and weight) most sumo
> athletes are, indeed, grossly obese.  However, so are body builders 
> with
> 4% body fat.  It's just a bad measurement for obesity in strength
> oriented athletes (if not for everyone).

I entirely agree. While not a statistician myself, I've done quite a 
bit of debunking in my time. At a time that included both Akebono and 
Mainoumi, what is the meaning of a median? What makes it an even worse 
measurement is that obesity is not of one pattern, since it arises from 
eating habits, what is eaten, and what the genetic makeup is. The 
weight of a good sumo body is solid and is made up gradually by eating 
a lot of rice and and protein (formerly fish and chicken, plus tofu). 
It does not (or should not) come from eating a lot of fried stuff and 
over-refined stuff like many Americans do, or a lot of creamy stuff 
like the Teutons. Australians are something else again: solid mass 
arising from consumption of a lot of meat, I believe. Things are 
muddied these days by young sumo-san with really bad eating habits -- 
like covering a bowl of rice with mayo and eating it like that. And 
Konishiki was (and is) not the typical case, although a lot of people 
seem to think so; he's way off the edge (he not only ate all the 
standard sumo fare, he thought nothing of sending out for ten burgers 
between meals, by all accounts).

One picture that sticks in my mind is from the "Sumo East and West" 
film often shown on Discovery Channel. The people who made it couldn't 
get permission to go into the Kokugikan to film a hon-basho, I seem to 
recall, so their shots of a whole line of sumo men had to be taken from 
US amateur competitions -- which are very different from a lineup of 
sekitori.  Kevin is, of course, in the real line of good amateur sumo 
-- and I can vouch for the fact that he actually did some real training 
at the Kokugikan School and elsewhere -- but I get the impression that 
a lot of the Americans I glimpsed in that lineup started off by being 
obese and then took up sumo because they believed this was their way to 
get respect.

My only advice is: beware of the simple answer. It's a very complex 

Doreen taking a break from font-chasing

Doreen Simmons
  jz8d-smmn at asahi-net.or.jp

More information about the Sumo mailing list