Regarding the Feb. 4 article “Match-throwing final nail in sumo coffin?“: As a youngster in upstate New York, I loved watching World Wrestling Federation (now called the World Wrestling Entertainment) matches on weekends. Hulk Hogan, Captain Lou, Andre the Giant, Junkyard Dog, Rowdy Roddy Piper — those guys were the coolest! The body slams, piledrivers, sleeper-holds and leglocks provided never-ending excitement!
One Sunday my father poked his head out from behind his newspaper and said, “You know this is all fake, don’t you?” I hadn’t known, but as soon as he said it, it was obviously true. Devastated, I turned off the TV, never to watch wrestling again.
Ten years later I moved to Japan. It was an exciting time in sumo — Takanohana, Wakanohana, Akebono, Musashimaru, Konishiki — and I quickly got hooked. I was a devoted fan for nearly 15 years. In recent years I didn’t care about the marijuana, the gambling on baseball, the preferential seats to yakuza. I could even overlook a young wrestler’s death by hazing.
Yes, I was aware of the longtime rumors of bout-fixing and I’d seen many matches I thought were questionable, but I was able to pretend the fix wasn’t in — until now. In light of the detailed text messages and admissions of guilt, it’s no longer deniable: Sumo is fixed. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been happening, how many wrestlers were involved, how often it happened, who gets punished or how many apologies and promises are made.
As I’ve no way of knowing which bouts are legitimate, they’re all illegitimate. Sumo’s credibility is irreparably damaged. It’s not a sport; it’s choreographed entertainment — no different from “pro wrestling.” Once again, I’m turning off the TV.
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