Big, Fat Trouble Piles On Sumo Wrestling

Drugs, game rigging scandals drag down Japanese sport

By Michael Roston,  Newser User

Posted Oct 9, 2008 1:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – Japan's most beloved sport is being dragged down by unrelenting scandal, NPR reports, as sumo has this year banned three Russian wrestlers from competition for smoking pot amid match-rigging accusations elsewhere. Another wrestler died in an apparent hazing incident, while a Mongolian champion stands accused of faking injury. Many Japanese have blamed the presence of foreigners for the sport's decline.

But an American who became the first foreign-born grand champion says that the fame that comes with sumo stardom, not foreignness, causes some of the bad behavior on display.  Akebono, who himself obtained Japanese citizenship, acknowledges that many foreign sumo wrestlers simply pack up and go home at the end of their careers. "Now a lot of people are looking at sumo and they're not looking at sumo-do," Akebono says. "Do is a lifestyle, a path."

Grand sumo wrestlers line up for both the Japanese and United States national anthem at the Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, June 7, 2008, in Los Angeles.
Grand sumo wrestlers line up for both the Japanese and United States national anthem at the Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, June 7, 2008, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)
Grand sumo wrestlers Asashoryu, left,and Hakuho prepare to wrestle during the final at the Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, June 7, 2008, in Los Angeles.
Grand sumo wrestlers Asashoryu, left,and Hakuho prepare to wrestle during the final at the Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, June 7, 2008, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)
Russian sumo wrestler Wakanoho, originally Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev, during a Tokyo press conference Sept. 8, 2008. Wakanoho was the first wrestler ever to be ejected from sumo for drug use.
Russian sumo wrestler Wakanoho, originally Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev, during a Tokyo press conference Sept. 8, 2008. Wakanoho was the first wrestler ever to be ejected from sumo for drug use.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow

Now a lot of people are looking at sumo and they're not looking at sumo-do. Do is a lifestyle, a path. So they have to try to get these guys back onto that path. - Akebono, an American-born sumo grand champion

« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   BuzzFeed   |   Cracked   |   World History Project   |   POPSUGAR Tech   |   Business Insider   |   HuffPost Entertainment