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John Gunning

For John Gunning's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Wrestlers put aside differences to promote U.S. sumo

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Feb 13, 2019

Wrestlers put aside differences to promote U.S. sumo

Kelly Gneiting is a religious fundamentalist. The 205-kg bearded giant is also an outspoken member of the ultraconservative Independent American Party, whose social media feeds are filled with inflammatory posts about homosexuality, abortion, politics and vaccinations. Matthew Davis is a cannabis-promoting, dreadlocked atheist who has the ...

European sumo overcomes schism to build popularity

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Feb 6, 2019

European sumo overcomes schism to build popularity

What do Baruto, Dejima, Kotomitsuki and Goeido have in common besides being ozeki who have won championships? The answer of course is that all four men have competed in and won medals at amateur sumo tournaments. That's not a significant fact in and of itself, as ...

Tamawashi put on thrilling show during run to first title

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Jan 30, 2019

Tamawashi put on thrilling show during run to first title

Just prior to the 2018 September Tournament, while sitting in a sweltering Ryogoku Kokugikan and watching the Yokozuna Deliberation Council practice session, I grabbed a quick selfie with a couple of rikishi standing over my right shoulder. Tochinoshin and Mitakeumi were the two wrestlers in ...

Sumo 101: Special prizes

Sumo Jan 27, 2019

Sumo 101: Special prizes

The Emperor's Cup isn't the only prize awarded on the final day of a sumo tournament. The new champion receives an array of trophies and gifts from various organizations and locales around Japan as well as prizes from several foreign governments. Two to four men normally ...

Sumo Jan 26, 2019

Sumo 101: Tickets

Sumo tickets go on sale roughly about six weeks before the start of every tournament. There are various categories and prices, as well as certain kinds of seats that are unique to particular venues, but generally speaking tickets fall into two main groups — masu ...

Sumo 101: Sumo's birthplace

Sumo Jan 25, 2019

Sumo 101: Sumo's birthplace

Ryogoku is the center of the sumo world. The district on the east bank of the Sumida River is home to Ryogoku Kokugikan and several stables. There are also numerous sumo specific- stores, shrines and museums in the area. Despite all that, Ryogoku can't claim to be ...

Sumo 101: Koenkai

Sumo Jan 24, 2019

Sumo 101: Koenkai

On the surface sumo generates income the same way as most other sports —through ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorships. While that's the case for the Japan Sumo Association on a macro level; individually, stables and wrestlers also rely on another source of funding — supporters ...

Sumo 101: Trading cards

Sumo Jan 23, 2019

Sumo 101: Trading cards

With a sport as ancient as sumo, trading cards aren't the first things that spring to mind when you think of memorabilia. A person could be forgiven for assuming that if such cards existed, they must be just a recent concession to western tastes. The reality ...

Sumo 101: Keshō-mawashi

Sumo Jan 22, 2019

Sumo 101: Keshō-mawashi

One of the first orders of business for a rikishi promoted to sumo's second-highest division (jūryō) is getting a keshō-mawashi (ceremonial apron-style belt). Large and heavy, keshō-mawashi are only worn during ring-entering ceremonies and special events. The starched cords attached to a wrestler's regular mawashi during ...

Sumo 101: Pre- and post-bout rituals

Sumo Jan 21, 2019

Sumo 101: Pre- and post-bout rituals

From once they are called to mount the dohyo, makuuchi division wrestlers have four minutes to prepare for their bout. After bowing to each other, they go to the corner, do shiko (foot stomps) and receive the chikara mizu and chikara gami (power water and ...