[sumo] Article on Yaocho/Wakanoho

Jack Gartin jacklg99 at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 16 22:27:35 EDT 2008


Why is ousted Wakanoho dishing the dirt now?
By *MARK BUCKTON<http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/JTsearch5.cgi?term1=MARK%20BUCKTON>
Special to The Japan Times Online

In recent weeks, sumo has been taking hits left, right and center.

Most relate to allegations of bout fixing, known as *yaocho,* that appeared
in early 2007 in the tabloid Shukan Gendai, which made claims that, among
others, current yokozuna Asashoryu benefited from such underhand dealings.

More recently though, the former Wakanoho, dismissed from the Sumo
Association on Aug. 21 for admitted drug use, has added some weight to the
tabloid's claims by coming out and naming names in his own apparent quest to
clean up the sport.

The timing of this mission, however, and his obvious need for money after
losing what is in essence a job that paid over 1 million yen per month, has
left more than a few raised eyebrows.

Similarly confusing are his recent comments suggesting two sumo elders with
the initials of K and T (presumably two oyakata Kokonoe and Tomozuna) were
known to use the yaocho method of bout-rigging. Wakanoho reportedly
attempted to apologize to these two men in the days following his release
from police detention and neither made much effort to hear out former
maegashira so could we be looking at a case of petty revenge?

On top of this, Wakanoho is expected to claim in the latest issue of Shukan
Gendai that ozeki pair Chiyotaikai (of Kokonoe Beya) and Kaio (of Tomozuna
Beya) have both been involved in yaocho. Things are starting to smell
decidedly fishy — even for neutrals watching the whole affair.

While Wakanoho has experience, albeit very limited, in going against the
current ozeki pair, against Chiyotaikai twice (won 1, lost 1) and Kaio just
three times (1-2 overall record), he never once won in forward-moving sumo
himself, always with the backpedaling, sidestepping slap downs he became so
(in)famous for. Furthermore, as his own defeats to the two long-time ozeki
came around the time when he had admitted to using drugs, even more question
marks can be penciled in next to his name.

Indeed, if the young Russian is now referring to their stable masters,
Kokonoe and Tomozuna with the "K" and "T" initials, and their being involved
in bought bouts when still active, he must have complete faith in his
yaocho-revealing sources as Kaiki (now Tomozuna) retired from active sumo 18
months before Wakanoho's birth, and the 20-year-old had not reached his
third birthday when former yokozuna Chiyonofuji (Kokonoe) hung it up for

The young Russian has also named several other top-flight stars, including
Sadogatake Beya ozeki Kotooshu and Kasuganishiki of Kasugano Beya as being
involved in yaocho. In both cases, according to the interview, he
demonstrates a wonderful memory for events, places, conversations and the
exact techniques by which he lost, after being *supposedly* paid off on a
Ryogoku street corner by Kotooshu to actually lose a bout. He, however, is a
bit fuzzy about the car Kotooshu arrived in and the identity of the car's
driver (sekitori are banned from driving themselves). Surely these details
would help the prosectution.

One interesting side issue is Wakanoho's naming of "clean *rikishi*" who
were apparently unwilling to participate in the bout-fixing system. Among
those names of young Japanese hopefuls former komusubi Kisenosato, Goeido of
Sakaigawa Beya and Tokitsukaze Beya's Toyonoshima.

Tellingly absent from that list of *gachinko* (fair and square) fighters
were the other two rikishi dismissed for drug use — brothers Roho and
Hakurozan as they were once called. Neither were mentioned in his claims and
insinuations that yaocho is part and parcel of everyday life, but surely he
would have talked about it with his closest friends
** * * * **

The Sumo World Championships, an annual amateur tournament, has acted as a
stepping stone to many a professional career in the sport, including those
of Kotooshu, Roho, Hakurozan, Dejima and Kakizoe to name just a few. It was
held just this past weekend in the sleepy town of Rakvere, Estonia, and not
too surprisingly Japan stood head and shoulders above the competition.

The Japanese team claimed gold in each of the men's light, middle and
heavyweight classes with a Mongolian rikishi taking top spot in the open
weight category. Russia took home the team gold, Japan the silver and Poland
and Mongolia shared the bronze.

Meanwhile, Ireland's John Gunning, an English teacher in Tokyo by
day/amateur rikishi by weekend, and one of only two foreign amateurs based
in Japan competed for the second time at the world level yet failed to make
it past the first round after being drawn against a former *sandanme
*(fourth division) professional and also losing a second bout to an
amateur. He is now expected to focus on promoting the sport among his Irish
brethren to ensure Emerald Isle participation in future world championships.

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