Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Asashoryu

My avatar at Poker Stars and Poker Academy is a picture of Asashoryu. Why a sumo wrestler? Not just any sumo wrestler, Asashoryu is a champion, a Yokozuna, the highest rank a sumo wrestler can achieve. Not that I'm a champion, by any stretch.

Sunday is Asashoryu's 29th birthday. He currently has the lead (13-0) in the September basho, which will conclude in two days. In this short clip on day 12, he is wreslting against Kaio, an Ozeki, the second highest rank. Kaio is Japan's darling of sorts. He is a fine wrestler and has been at it for many years. He is a crowd favorite largely because he is Japanese. Asashoryu is Mongolian, as is the other Yokozuna, Hakuho (12-1).

Note the respect he gives Kaio at the end of the match.* Many other opponents end up in the third row.

Asashoryu is a joy to watch before the match as much as during the match itself. He has the power of a offensive guard in football and the grace of a ballet dancer. It is dance well-rehearsed. When other wrestlers enter the dohyo (ring) with Asashoryu, they find it hard to look at him, in a competition that has as much to do with the ritual psyche-out that precedes the actual match. They are most likely going down and they know it.

You can read a synopsis atōryū_Akinori. The last sentence is the first paragraph: " In 2005 he became the first man to win all six official tournaments (honbasho) in a single year." He was so overcome with joy the moment this was accomplished that he cried tears of joy, if ever so briefly, for rikishi are not supposed to show emotion in the dohyo. This was a small "outburst." My "hero" is not without controversy. The Wiki article outlines others.

The last year has found Asashoryu floundering, a strong word to use. He has only won two bashos. many wrestlers are lucky to win one in their entire professional career. Injury has taken its toll, yet the crowd has expectations. At 29 years old, ten years into his career, he is past his prime.

*If so inclined, the YouTube user who posted this video has the September basho online, and has done a superb job of it.

Addendum: Asashoryu defeats Kotomitsuki on Day 14.


Crash said...

I always wondered about your avatar. Now I don't have to ask.

Memphis MOJO said...

I used to be a sumo wrestler, but I lost too much weight.

Forrest Gump said...

I'd also wondered which wrestler it was and why you chose them. It's great to watch on TV but I imagine the thud of bodies slamming if you had ring side seats would be something else.

bastinptc said...

DW and I went to an exhibition match in Los Angeles last year. All of the big names were there. We had very good seats. Not as good as the movie stars in attendance, but good enough. I even got withing ten feet of Asashoryu. Made my day. We are waiting for another chance.