Homarenishiki Retirement


Homarenishiki retired. In all, 10 wrestlers announced their retirement. Bullying and hazing are serious issues in athletics. I’m a little disappointed that there’s not been much confirmed reporting on what happened at the Nishikido heya seeing as how so many of their wrestlers were suddenly out-of-action. It’s difficult for an observer to understand what’s going on, who may have acted improperly. As fans, we want to know that rikishi are not abused and are in a safe environment (though we’d be silly not to expect inter-personal drama as tight-nit as these heya are). We’d also like to know that if wrestlers or heyas act improperly, they will be removed from sumo.

Bullying and hazing are not issues which are unique to sumo. In the US, it’s also been a big issue in education as well. I’m a board member for my kids’ PTA association and it is a serious concern, even in lower elementary grades. People are best served with an open treatment of the issues rather than sweeping individual instances under the rug. It’s important to be up front with what happened and reinforce that this behavior is not acceptable. Without a clear accounting, people don’t really get that message and the behavior continues under the surface until it blows up in a bigger, wider scandal.

On the other side of the coin, without better information, rumors can blow things way out of proportion for what really happened. It may be a more minor issue but without knowing, we’re left to speculate and either way it taints the sport.

11 thoughts on “Homarenishiki Retirement

  1. Given the nature of the culture, I am not surprised that there is little appetite to air dirty laundry around Nishikido in public. But I have to confess I was following the career of a fellow “Henderson” and remain curious. Thank you very much for publishing the information you have gathered.

    There was also some discussion that Nishikido heya was in trouble. How does this get handled? Do they close down the stable? Do they assign a new master? Is Nishiko-oyakata still associated with they Heya?

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  2. I was quite disappointed to see that he’d retired. I’ve been following sumo since I moved to Japan in 2005, and was very excited to see a Canadian join. But with all the reports of bullying and hazing, I’m not surprised if this is the reason for his retirement.

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    • Me too. It’s not unique to sumo and it will continue to keep Japanese kids out of heya. If middle class kids have a choice between sumo and being a salaryman, they’ll still choose being a salaryman.

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        • I tend to think these things run in cycles, and we have likely passed the low point of Sumo’s popularity in Japan. What is needed to really drive interest is a good rivalry, like between Takanohana vs Akebono. I think the fact that those two brought very different styles to the ring worked to engage people. Plus it was “Can the little fast Japanese guy really defeat the giant lumbering American?” And in many cases he could!

          At the present we have a Mongolian dominance in Sumo. Some of the strongest, best Rikishi ever, one could say. I think to drive engagement there needs to be a compelling story. I know folks are trying to hang that on Kisenosato and his drive to make Yokozuna. But frankly Kisenosato is not “exciting Sumo”. I think there are a couple of others who could contest the current Tsuna crop, but we shall see if they can get their skill to the level required to make it a contest.

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          • Honestly, I just wonder what sumo would be like if Asashoryu hadn’t punched that dude and retired. Kisenosato is not of that caliber and I question whether Kakuryu would be, either. Maybe Hakuho would just now be approaching 30 titles?

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          • So you raise a good question, Andy. At what point does Hakuho retire? He looked pretty damaged at the end of the Nagoya basho. I am sure he can rebuild / recover in time for September. But one has to wonder if he is the kind of man who goes out on top or waits for the writing to be on the wall?

            When that happens, it’s going to be a huge re-shuffle in the ranks. Frankly I think some of the questions around who is the next Ozeki is far more interesting and exciting than the question on if Kisenosato can ever Yusho enough to get his rope.

            With two Ozeki kadoban going into Tokyo, there are some great opportunities for some of the Rikishi – I am especially watching Takayasu who went 11-4 in Nagoya, and looked very strong, and Takarafuji who was quite impressive at 10-5. Don’t be surprised to see my favorite, Yoshikaze, return to Komusubi or Maegashira #1, as long as he has his health straightened out.

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          • Kisenosato definitely isn’t exciting. I almost find him expressionless. But he’s been strong. Hakuho’s already beaten all the records for most yusho.

            I think the key for sumo becoming more popular is to have another Japanese Yokozuna. It’s been too long.

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          • Jay Dee – one of the great draws for Sumo in my opinion is its close to a raw meritocracy. I would be fantastic if Kise could Yusho and claim the Tsuna. But I love the fact that they are not going to make it any easier for him. His next shot is in just under a month, but he has some of the best talent in the history of Sumo to defeat.

            He should be hoping for the up and comings to pull out a kinboshi or two to help him along.

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