A Fantastic Achievement.
Sumo fans in Japan and around the world were stunned by Ura’s defeat of Yokozuna Harumafuji. Even though Harumafuji has been competing hurt since May, Ura’s accomplishment was unexpected, and will likely change the way he is perceived for years to come. As his fans revel in his victory, his critics can no longer dismiss him as a stunt or sideshow amuesment. Ura is a legitimate joi-jin rikishi, and if he can stay healthy, will likely be a force in sumo for the next few years.
If you watch the video above, it’s clear that Ura is overwhelmed. In all likelyhood he thought the day he faced a Yokozuna was some time in the future, maybe later this year, and the day he could actually defeat one some time beyond that. As he steps off the dohyo, it’s almost as he’s in shock.
In his interview, it’s almost if he barely comprehends what the reporter is asking him, he’s just a stream of thought. At one point he describes that his sumo just flowed through him, and his body was moving by it’s own will. He applied all of his strength and put everything into the instant he took hold of Harumafuji’s arm in a two hand hold.
At the end, he breaks into tears, so overwhelmed by the outcome he can no longer contain his emotions.
During my visit to the Natsu basho, the crowd was really behind Ura. In him they see a fellow that gets discounted and marginalized, but rises up anyhow and applies himself. This is a quintessential Japanese mythos, and he fits it in many ways. Reader nicolaah was present in Nagoya for day 9, and shares: “The Ura match was brilliant to be there for in person. EVERYONE was screaming and yelling about Dai kinboshi. Some people were actually crying.” Given my experience with fans at the Kokugikan and how they feel about Ura, this sounds about right.
Congratulations to Ura, you continue to prove your critics wrong. But don’t get cocky, it just gets tougher from here.