John Gunning has written another great piece for Japan Times, Dominant Hakuho continues to redefine greatness. In the article, he discusses the magnitude of Hakuho’s achievements and the preposterousness of the claims that they can be attributed to weaker competition. Here’s a snippet, but I highly recommend the whole thing.
In terms of pure numbers, there is no one that even comes close.
A few years ago, some German sumo fans compiled ELO-style ratings for sumo going back to the 1950s. A few different methods were used but all of them reached essentially the same conclusion — Hakuho is the best there has ever been, and by a significant margin.
The yokozuna passes the eye test as well, constantly adjusting his style of sumo over the years either to cope with age and injury or just to challenge himself and maintain his position at the head of the pack.