SumoStew Video on Konishiki

SumoStew released a great video with Konishiki. The premise was to give viewers a bit of the back story on the photo we’ve all seen of the massive former Ozeki framed by a black background glaring at, and dwarfing, his opponent. But it’s more. It’s a quick, well-produced ride through the story of Konishiki, featuring an interview from the man himself. It also has a bit of the history and cultural background of the sport. I learned a lot. I didn’t know the story of the photo. But, it’s not just for die-hard sumo fans. She carefully explains the key concepts so you don’t need to be an expert in sumo to enjoy it. NBC should take notes.

Yes, I realize there’s a bit of irony in me enjoying this video about one of the largest rikishi ever when I complained about that NBC piece precisely because THAT video focused on the stereotypical girth of sumo wrestlers. I would argue that this SumoStew video is not intended as a 2:30 minute introduction to the sport but it definitely goes deeper into the cultural background while staying in the context of Konishiki and his importance as a ground-breaking Ozeki.

The NBC video is linked in the tweet above. And I understand where y’all are coming from that, “it wasn’t THAT bad.” But, I guess, if I had to make a comparison, the NBC video would be like introducing an audience to the NBA by focusing on the height of the players and not mentioning really anything substantive about the sport itself, like that it’s 5-on-5 and there’s a three-point line. No discussion of offensive strategies or defensive strategies or showing great plays. Just, “these guys are tall.” And rather than poking a basketball player in the belly, interview him from a ladder. It’s a missed opportunity.

That said, the career and life of Manute Bol is worth exploring for basketball fans in the way SumoStew introduces her viewer to Konishiki. I think SumoStew payed more respect to her subject than NBC did and she did so in a way that would entice more people to learn more than the NBC video — as Konishiki himself said he learned more about Japan. There’s a lot of depth to this sport which is why I get so agitated when it’s reduced to caricature and stereotype.

4 thoughts on “SumoStew Video on Konishiki

  1. The first time I ever heard/read about Sumo was when the Far Eastern Economic Review published an article about a sumo wrestler ranked ozeki called Konishiki . Skill wise he apparently had the wherewithal to be a yokozuna, in the eyes of the sumo powers that be he was, however, seriously lacking in that elusive quality “hinkaku”.

    Ah… the good old days of the Far Eastern Economic Review ever so often banned in Singapore because of its irreverent reporting.

    Excellent video by SumoStew, a relative newcomer to the aficionado throng?

  2. Awesome video. At first I was put off by how soft spoken the narrator was but I got used to it. A lot of informative content in that video. I never knew they did a tournament in England and I’d heard of Konishiki but never really knew that him being denied Yokozuna was what created the controversy that forced the JSA to allow foreigners to reach that rank later on.

    Regarding discovering Sumo, I think a lot of it comes down to the person and their interests. For me I grew up a hardcore pro-wrestling fan and sought out as much as I could. Some of my favorite wrestlers weren’t American and that led to watching Lucha Libre (Mexican) and Puroresu (Japanese) at a fairly young age. I also grew up in the wild age of the internet so I was exposed to different ideas, cultures, and concepts then I think many young people today are. Then I discovered UFC; I’d heard of it from pro-wrestling but I started renting tapes at a local video store. That led to an interest in all combat sports and I found Sumo on one of the ESPN substations. They used to air Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Karate, Sumo, etc on there at odd times. I didn’t understand anything of the structure of Sumo at all but I enjoyed watching it. That would have been around the time of Musashimaru who I absolutely hated, feeling like he just used size to win his matches over the more skilled wrestlers. A coupe years ago I randomly decided to look up Sumo and found a youtube chan that was uploading highlights and pretty quickly realized NHK was the one producing them. That would have been the tournament after Kisenosato was promoted.

    Sumo like all combat sports were just a continuation of my love of pro-wrestling. They all have the same shared ancestry’s and crossover between them. Every martial art (and pro-wrestling as a performance I suppose) are interconnected to some degree. They all branch off each other and crisscross between each other at various points in history.


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