Harumafuji Retirement – Early English Media Coverage


Following Bruce’s post earlier today, it has been confirmed that the 70th Yokozuna Harumafuji has submitted his resignation, which has been announced by Isegahama-oyakata and the Yokozuna himself, in a press conference at 2pm Japan time today. While undoubtedly more coverage and analysis will follow here at Tachiai, the news has already received worldwide coverage, and so here is a quick round up of English-language media announcing the end of the 9-time yusho winner’s storied career:

NHK World has been running a one minute segment every hour as part of their NHK World Newsline coverage. This segment was online but has since disappeared from their general online statement, which can be viewed here. NHK World also covered the Press Conference with live translation for 15 minutes of the 2pm hour of Newsline and we can expect that coverage to repeat in edited pieces throughout the coming hours (Edited to add – the 15 minute segment is now viewable by clicking here).

NHK World added a second press hit within the last hour linking the news to the past abdications of Asashoryu and Futahaguro. Additionally they have coverage of the timing of the retirement as well as a chronology of the incident.

The Japan Times have also updated their article announcing the retirement, within the last few hours, which is running on their front page.

The Guardian (UK) is running a piece, quoting from Isegahama-oyakata’s announcement that Harumafuji has “caused great trouble” to the NSK and the sport. Fox Sports, Reuters, Deutsche Welle and more are also running coverage, largely syndicated across Associated Press outlets.

33 thoughts on “Harumafuji Retirement – Early English Media Coverage

  1. I understand his decision, and the decision of JSA. But I’m so sorry…technically is a big loss for Sumo. Harumafuji was a great Yokozuna. Good luck for his new career and life.

  2. That press conference was hard to watch. Isegahama oyakata looked so heartbroken, almost as if he was announcing the loss of a child. In a way, he kind of is.

    I may disagree with the harsh reaction of the YDC towards Harumafuji, a first-time offender, but he was in the wrong, and I respect him for owning up to his mistakes. Every man deserves a second chance, and while our dear horse won’t get his on the dohyo, I hope he can come to terms with this situation and find happiness in his future.

    • I agree with you. I shouldn’t have watched that at work. As soon as I saw his tears and heard how he had known Harumafuji since he was 16, I started crying.

      I really hope his second life is a success.

      • Same here, it’s been tears off and on as I see new snippets and videos online. The press conference was tough to watch, there’s no way I could have kept such a stolid expression on my face like those two did. Americans just aren’t good at hiding their true feelings so deep inside.

        It really makes me mad that sumo is so beholden to an outdated and hypocritical management system. Just another thing to add to the pile of terrible news in 2017.

  3. I’m afraid that Harumafuji will never get the credit he deserves for being absolutely one of the most awe-inspiring rikishi in the history of Sumo. He won 9 titles, which places him one short of the double digit threshold for being called a dai-yokozuna, but given the context of the time and his size, he should be remembered as one of the greatest ever.

    Harumafuji had the misfortune of competing against Asashoryu and Hakuho, thus somewhat limiting his opportunities to rack up titles at a prodigious rate. But when he was healthy, he was the one rikishi who could beat a healthy Hakuho with some regularity. Who can forget the period between 2012 and 2013 when Harumafuji won 3 out of 4 bashos, all three via 15-0 zensho yushos? And who was the runner up to all three championships, you might ask? None other than the greatest of all time. Hakuho struggled to handle Harumafuji’s speed, skill and tenacity more than he struggled to handle anyone else, except for Asashoryu back when Hakuho was still in his very early 20s.

    Being an undersized yokozuna meant that injuries were always gonna take their toll, and Harumafuji was a diminished rikishi in his last few years. Still, he was tough as nails, rarely sitting tournaments out, and gutting through tournaments via sheer force of will. This was never more apparent than in Harumafuji’s last full tournament, when he struggled mightily with bad elbows and knees in the first week, only to persevere and snatch the title from Goeido’s grasp in a memorable senshuraku.

    The man, undersized and all, was a force of nature. He knew all the tricks in the book, he fought like a maniac, and he overwhelmed opponents with speed. While Hakuho probably kept Harumafuji from achieving double digit yushos, it’s also true that Harumafuji is the one reason for Hakuho being at 40 yushos at the moment, rather than nearing an even more absurd 50th championship. They were not equals – nobody really could be Hakuho’s equal – but the rivalry was real, and it made for epic matches.

    I just hope Harumafuji is remembered as the awesome rikishi that he was. He was fast as a missile at the tachiai. He sent foes flying into the third row of the Kokugikan. He gutted out improbable victories against the greatest rikishi of all time. He was a gentleman, he was ornery, he was honorable, and yes, apparently he was a violent drunk. Nobody is perfect.

    May we never forget the little yokozuna from Mongolia. Godspeed, Harumafuji. Thank you for the amazing memories. What a journey yours was.

    • What you have written, more than anything else, is why I believe Hakuho said what he did in his post-basho speech. He recognizes that athletes are made better by having quality competition and he recognizes everything that Haramafuji has done for sumo and for his own career.

  4. Davaanyamyn Byambadorj is his birth name, and somewhere in between he was called Ama before embarking as one of the greatest Yokozuna of all, the feisty and athletic Harumafuji. I’m simply just — stunned. This man gave so much to be as great as he can be — and to have to end his brilliant career this way — I’m just shaking my head.

    As someone who has seen firsthand the kind of damage that alcohol can do, I wish — that something could’ve been — well, it’s too late now. Haru must’ve known what was going to happen once he was clearheaded and had time to reflect upon his actions. I had a feeling what the consequences would be, as I’m sure you lot did to. It’s a real damn shame.

    Anyway, I will looked back on the thrilling, unpredictably exciting, kick-ass career of Haramafuji with total WONDER! I’m glad that I was alive to see this steely, muscular dude get his 9 yushos — that’ll be something that NO ONE can take from him. He’s immortal in that sense. And whatever the next chapter is in life, I do hope it is long and rewarding and deeply satisfying to him and his family.

  5. Meanwhile, NBC gives a full 5-minutes to feature an American living in Toronto getting engaged to some bloke from England. If that bloke’s brother didn’t happen to be a Harumafuji fan, well…I gotta go. I’m a cry.


    Seriously, though…reading the comments in the posts over the past few days has been heartwarming. There’s a lot of love out there for the dude. I’m looking forward to Jason’s next video, because other than the guy from Shimane, Ama seemed to be his fave. Dammit…gonna cry again.

    • I have to stop looking at my Instagram. Everyone is putting up these really touching tributes to him and it is making me cry again …. and I am not an attractive cryer 😭😭😭

    • Oh yeah, I’ve been waiting for Jason’s weds wrap up video. I’m sure it will be a doozy now. More tears forthcoming.

      If he’s got any of those fancy macarons left from last basho, I’d totally trade him some Disneyland tickets. He really needs to take his family on a vacation incognito as soon as his responsibilities to sumo are done. The kids shouldn’t be subjected to this nonsense, and the holiday lights are fantastic.

    • Looks like NBC has their own bad behavior story on their hands now so I wouldn’t count on this news appearing there…

      Re: Jason – fully. After someone (sorry I can’t remember who!) posted the video playlist of his amazing coverage of the show that aired in Japan with the countdown of the 30 most popular rikishi (of which of course Harumafuji is one), he stated definitively that Harumafuji was his favorite, and added some flavor about the difference between a favorite rikishi and the best rikishi – he said that while he would never make the case for Harumafuji being as good as Hakuho, that didn’t detract from what made him his favorite rikishi to watch.

  6. Let’s take some time to look back at that incredible career – what was everybody’s favourite Harumafuji bout?

  7. What I loved about him was his elegant moves, he´d change positions with a sublime mix of smoothness and force during Dohyo-Iri, Shiko, Tachiai.
    When he kept his composure he was only beatable by sheer force. Then again, he´d lose his composure very often and give away Kinboshi as it were peanuts. He´d be able to grin while flying out of the Dohyo on a loss, as if to say “you got me there!”.
    Great Rikishi, great Yokozuna, great bouts where he mostly won with amazing Kimarite. When he lost he made it interesting as well, pushing his opponent to use interesting Kimarite.
    Good luck Yokozuna, have a great life!

  8. For me, it is the humble attitude of Harumafuji which I always liked.

    When he lost to Kotoshougiku on day 3 of Aki 2017, he accepted the result not like Hakuho.

    Prince William must be sad. He is a fan of Harumafuji.

  9. I just hate how the Western sports media (bbc especially) are using this as an opportunity to shit all over sumo – the only time the sport seems to get any coverage (apart from Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato in the past couple of years). Miss you Harumafuji.

    • I guess it says something about how scandals and stupid political news are so constant in the US right now, that none of my friends had any idea what I was talking about when I said I was sad about Harumafuji. My parents thought I was talking about baseball (no Dad, that’s Ohtani).

      So if the sports media is hating on sumo, no one is bothering to pay attention around here.

  10. Harumafuji has been my favourite rikishi since I started watching sumo and I’m just so saddened to see him have to retire like this. I’m grateful to have watched him fight and wish him nothing but the absolute best in the future.


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