I’ve been positively giddy with excitement these last few days with the Fukuoka Basho approaching. Now that it’s here, I’m scouring the web for insight into who will win. My pick: Goeido. Why? Okay, follow me down the rabbit hole:
I’ve created a spreadsheet to track Josh’s “Ones To Watch” and populated it with data on the 21 rikishi and the match-ups of the 10 fighting on Day 1. Sadly, no Wakaichiro, Jokoryu, or Enho. Hattorizakura is fighting in the first bout of the tournament. Can we invent some ceremony? Maybe I’ll just drink a beer in a few hours, at 6:30pm Eastern, to commemorate Hattorizakura opening the basho, hopefully with a win!
So, who else am I going to watch on Day 1? Let’s see… Oh, what about our good friend Shunba? He’ll likely post footage on his blog afterward so we’ll be able to see it. Who’s he fighting? Obamaumi? Obama-umi. For real? That’s an interesting name. Obamaumi. I like it. Let’s take a quick check of the SumoDB and see his stats. He’s a Sakaigawa boy there with Goeido, Myogiryu, Sadanoumi, and Toyohibiki. Funny. He actually started sumo as President Obama was taking office. There’s got to be more to this story.
Googling the kanji for Obamaumi in Japanese (小浜海) yields a bunch of articles but one thing catches my eye immediately: Geocities. WTF? There’s a Geocities site still active on the web in 2017? Click. Up pops some amazing data, only overshadowed by the fantastic 1990s background and web design. What is this? Some random Sakaigawa fan site? This is great! My terrible Japanese picks up the fact that he has an O blood type, his favorite food is curry, and his brother is the recently retired Sadanofuji who he followed into the sumo world.
I click to the homepage and a realization hits me… This is the official site for the Sakaigawa stable. Half of me is tempted to pass around a hat to solicit donations to bring this site into the 21st Century. With my vinyl copy of Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits playing in the background, nostalgia started to kick in hard. Flashbacks are now pouring back, including my first website – which was populated by pictures I had stored on floppy discs.
“…this time the hurting won’t heal. You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille…”
Nostalgia aside, the Hakuho era is coming to a close. His reign on top of the sport has peaked as injuries begin to pile up. For years the movers-and-shakers in the sport were looking for a worthy rival. Harumafuji, while certainly worthy of the title yokozuna, was never quite able to be a consistent threat as Hakuho’s mantle overflowed with macarons. So as they scanned the next plateau, they found Kakuryu, swiftly hit with the injury bug. Kisenosato bobs up – and before he can lift his second cup, he falls to injury. There will be a changing of the guard and the moves will be swift. Who will be there to start mopping up? Goeido 2.0