John Gunning on Hakuho

Japan Times

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.

15 thoughts on “John Gunning on Hakuho

  1. Great read! And, I was going to, as Gunning suggests, see Hakuho before it’s too late. Unfortunately, my only chance is the May tournament this year. Looks like I’m going to miss out again. The only other time I’ve ever seen sumo live was in Osaka last year. I got to see Kakuryu beat Goeido for the yusho, but I never saw Hakuho, as he’d gone kyujo.

    • I am going in Sept…fingers crossed!

      I have seen him but his record for me is 0-1-1 (I went during Tochi’s yusho) and saw him lose day 3 and go Kyujo on my 2nd day (day 10).

    • I was at the Hatsu Basho and was there for Kisenosato’ last professional match and we saw Hakuho up against Ichinojo. That was one exciting bout….

  2. John Gunning’s articles are always worth a read. I liked his point about many of the great yokozuna of modern times coming from dominant stables and not having to fight the best available opposition. Chiyonofuji didn’t have to fight Hokutoumi; Takanohana didn’t have to fight his brother. Hakuho meanwhile, has had to fight the best opponents every time.

    • I just recognised that Podolski is next to Hakuho in that photo! Western media reported that he trained on the dohyo with Hakuho, but the photos look like he was there with Chiyoshoma, Chiyomaru and others (i.e Kokonoe), and obviously Hakuho is injured.

      • He visited and practiced sumo at Kokonoe beya. This was in the middle of the basho, or shortly before it. He met Hakuho and had photos taken with him – I didn’t know he was there for senshuraku before I saw this one, though. I didn’t see any practice with Hakuho.

    • I’m not really getting the reference to Forest Gump, other that both are fairly likeable characters. For someone with his success Podolski has stayed extremely grounded.

        • You know that if you show a picture of Podolski and Hakuho anywhere of the world, odds are that Hakuho will be labeled the stranger? ;) If I judge by the sumo interest among my Japanese friends, that could very well happen in Japan as well ;-)

          • Well, that was not Podolski’s yusho, not his cup, and heis the only one there in a aweatsuit. He is definitely the Gump here.


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