From a personal point of view, sumo has quickly gone from a sport that I followed enthusiastically, to one that sadly I now pay very little attention to. The treatment and forced resignation of an admittedly controversial but at the same time colourful Grand Champion, and then the far more worrying revelations of match-fixing, have arguably made it a sport in the very loosest sense of the word, as well as one mired in small-mindedness and criminality.
Rather harsh criticism perhaps, but along with the aforementioned issues, and a complete lack of Japanese winners (let alone Yokozuna) for many years, has caused local fans to also turn their back on the sport, with ticket sales down and interest at an all-time low.
Yet despite this, and in 2007 the Japan Sumo Association suffering — for the first time in its history — a total lack of applicants from would-be Japanese wrestlers, there is still hope. Yes, it’ll never be able to compete with baseball and soccer in the coming years, but some youngsters are still interested, and if the passion and commitment of the kids pictured below is anything to go by, then sumo is very much alive and kicking.
Getting ready for their turn in the ring, the young lads in question waited patiently in order.
And although there may have been some nerves, there was also an awful lot of fun to be had while watching the other bouts.
But, when it came down to business, there was no more silliness — none whatsoever.
Instead they fought hard.
Until there was a fall.
Making it an event that was competitive, fun and controversy free, as well as a spectacle for all the right reasons. Something those running the sport could do with recapturing – quickly.