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John Gunning

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

Retirement ceremonies often full of emotion

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Jun 19, 2019

Retirement ceremonies often full of emotion

It's no secret that difficulty in procuring tickets is one of the main hurdles preventing overseas visitors from being able to watch sumo in person. In recent years, third-party agents, some catering almost exclusively to foreign tourists, have provided fans with an alternative means of ...

Predicting next yokozuna a formidable task

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Jun 12, 2019

Predicting next yokozuna a formidable task

When veteran sumo journalists get together and the conversation turns, as it inevitability does, to up-and-coming wrestlers, talk is rarely of who will be the next yokozuna. Most writers or commentators are only willing to hypothesize rikishi with the ability to reach sanyaku (the three ...

Amateur tourneys offer window to sport's future stars

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Jun 5, 2019

Amateur tourneys offer window to sport's future stars

Asanoyama is sumo's latest champion. The Takasago stable wrestler's victory in the May tournament makes him the fourth rikishi to win a debut championship in the past six meets — something that hasn't happened in 19 years. Asanoyama is also one of four former amateur sumo ...

Trump's basho visit boosts sumo's reputation overseas

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO May 29, 2019

Trump's basho visit boosts sumo's reputation overseas

U.S. President Donald Trump's attendance at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, and presentation of a large trophy to its winner, made headlines around the globe. The attention of the world's media, for a few hours at least, was focused on Japan's national sport. Although massively disruptive ...

Sumo 101: Sumo and singing

Sumo May 26, 2019

Sumo 101: Sumo and singing

Though sumo and song may not seem obvious bedfellows, Japan's national sport has musical connections both varied and historical. Jinku, a form of folk singing, is a common sight on provincial tours and at retirement ceremonies. Six wrestlers wearing kesho mawashi (highly decorated apron-like belts) take ...

Sumo May 25, 2019

Sumo 101: Controversial decisions

Friday's controversial overturning of an apparent Tochinoshin win has people up in arms. Irate fans flooded social media with photos, videos and gifs that they felt proved the burly Georgian was hard done by. There is even a change.org petition to have the ruling reversed. That ...

Sumo 101: Mongolians

Sumo May 24, 2019

Sumo 101: Mongolians

Sumo might be Japan's national sport, but for most of the last two decades it has been dominated by Mongolians. From November 2002, when Ulaanbaatar native Asashoryu won his first Emperor's Cup, to January 2016, when Kotoshogiku broke a 10-year title drought for Japan-born rikishi, ...

Sumo 101: Yobidashi (ring announcers)

Sumo May 23, 2019

Sumo 101: Yobidashi (ring announcers)

The busiest men in sumo are the yobidashi (ring announcers). Named after their most conspicuous duty, yobidashi do far more than just call rikishi up to fight. In fact, pretty much every behind-the- scenes task in Japan's national sport is taken care of by sumo's unsung ...

Sumo 101: Large rikishi

Sumo May 22, 2019

Sumo 101: Large rikishi

The first thing that comes to mind when people think of sumo is the size of the participants. While the height of most wrestlers doesn't generally exceed that of athletes in many other sports, the weight, especially at the top level, is far greater. Offensive linemen ...

Sumo 101: Small rikishi

Sumo May 21, 2019

Sumo 101: Small rikishi

Sumo has no weight classes. The David vs. Goliath clashes that arise as a result of that lack of regulation are a big part of the sport's appeal for many fans. When a diminutive rikishi like Enho takes down towering opponents that outweigh him by 70 ...