Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Sumo nuts make
sure they’re heard

IT'S no wonder the wave rolls in. The phone calls when people have sumo concerns.

Everybody loves sumo. You love sumo. I love sumo. We love sumo.

It's a wonderful sport, at once the mix of a unique institution filled with history, heritage and culture ... and two really big guys trying to push and throw each other out of a ring.

You can't beat that.

Plus, I love the hair. Excellent hair.

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of sumo is the way that they change your name when you get into it, like the witness protection program.

I can see it now...

Stablemaster: Your new Delta Tau Chi name is "Weasel." Your Delta Tau Chi name is "Pinto." Atisanoe, I've given this a lot of thought. Your new name is "Konishiki."

Atisanoe: Why Konishiki?

Stablemaster: WHY NOT!

This, of course, is not how it happens. John Belushi is not training sumotori.

Sumo is more than just 30 seconds of thunder, more than big, bigger and biggest. It's also a world of intricacies and possibilities, of technique and tradition. It's feudal, and it's ritualistic, and it's knee-slapping fun.

"Sumo is 50 percent athletics, 50 percent ritual and 100 percent Japanese," says Star-Bulletin Editorial Director Richard Halloran.

"I am a real sumo nut."

This, from a man who spends his days pondering political discourse and policy debates. But Halloran says that in the Tokyo Bureau office of the New York Times, everything stopped when the big bouts took center stage. The journalists would come running to gather around the TV. Halloran talks about seeing Jesse Kuhaulua become the first foreigner to win a championship, about sneaking off to the tournaments, to drink beer and eat rice and talk sumo with total strangers. Better than a day at the ballpark.

Meanwhile, co-worker George Steele comes over with a Web site,, that features his all-time favorite, Chiyonofuji. There is video on the site that features Chiyonofuji's 1,000th win, George points out. "It's his eyes," George says. "He really has the eyes of a fighter."

Oh, how we love sumo. It grabs hold of us all.

THE GUY ON OUR voice mail is another sumo nut. "Calling from Molokai, even," he says.

Never mind the long distance charges. This is important.

He loves the paper, he says. But he has a few tips on the sumo coverage. And he signs off with, "Eh, the Moose is alright."

You love your sumo. You let us know it. You call and you continue to call. That's good.

With time zones and deadlines, sumo is not easy to report, and mostly we get it right. But sometimes, we can't get the rankings, and once in a while, you miss the overnight updates on Musashimaru.

And then the calls come in.

That's when we hear the passion in your voices. I'm sure that somewhere, some reader might even really have the eyes of a fighter.

We understand. We feel your fervor.

We'll let you talk to George.

For more sumo information online, try:
Sumo Web
Da Kine Sumo E-zine
Grand Sumo Home Page
Kyodo News Service

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

E-mail to Sports Editor

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