In the past, I’ve written about how a member of Rock ‘n Roll royalty, Sir Paul McCartney is a fan of sumo. Apparently, a member of actual British royalty is a fan of sumo as well. Several Japanese media outlets have reported that during his recent tour of Japan, William expressed his fondness for sumo and made a special request to meet Harumafuji. According to Nikkan Sports, “日馬富士の大ファンというウィリアム王子が「会いたい」とリクエスト…” (Prince William, a big fan of Harumafuji, requested to meet). If you don’t believe me:
So, what does this mean for sumo? Hopefully it would bring a level of respect that it doesn’t get as the sport “of those fat guys”. However, it may also increase the rivalry between Harumafuji and Hakuho. Hakuho had just broken Taiho’s yusho record but Prince William requested Harumafuji’s presence at the embassy event.
As I’ve said before, Hakuho is great and I consider myself a fan. I also think his is the greatest sumo wrestler ever. He hasn’t even been on form this tournament but still racks up wins with his innate balance, and mastery of technique. However, I am also a fan of Harumafuji. I root for Harumafuji to win yusho over Hakuho because I like competition and the most exciting times in any sport are when there are strong, evenly matched rivals. If a sport is dominated by one competitor or one team, the predictability detracts from the appeal even when we are witness to true greatness.
I understand how Hakuho is disappointed when spectators cheer for his opponents. I can understand why he is upset at having a rematch declared when he was, by video replay, shown to be the victor. I get his anger at not getting enough respect and when he talks about it, suddenly he’s the villain and the media is all over him. He needs to learn from American football players, the media are a tool. He can use them but he also needs to be very measured in his dealings with them. He also just needs to get over the jealousy. Just because people root for the opponent doesn’t mean they dislike or disrespect him.