On peut raisonnablement dire que nous aimons tous les playoffs. Cela apporte des situations amusantes, dramatiques, du type “mort subite”, au cours desquelles les lutteurs donnent tout ce qu’ils ont. On préfère encore les playoffs multiples, qui peuvent receler des règles originales.Continue reading
Former Yokozuna Akebono and former Sekiwake Takamiyama said their good-byes to the late Ushiomaru (Azumazeki-oyakata). Both Hawai’ian greats have strong connections to Azumazeki-beya. Takamiyama fought under Takasago beya but upon retirement received the Azumazeki kabu, opening the stable which would be home to Akebono. Takamiyama reached retirement age in 2009, passing the baton to Ushiomaru.
Since being hospitalized from his own health issues, updates on Akebono’s condition have been rare but we are very happy to see him. Judging from the comments and tweets I’ve seen about this news the sentiment is shared throughout the sumo fan community.
It is wonderful to see Akebono, especially since there is rarely any news on his condition. On a personal note, a very little known fact: Akebono was one of our very first Twitter followers and I still remember freaking out, and the startled look on my wife’s face when I realized it was actually him. This fanboy got into this awesome sport to begin with by watching Akebono highlights on ESPN. (Long before gigabit streams in HD.) Hosted by Larry Biel, they would show half-hour digests of a whole tournament…and with that taste, I was hooked. We extend our best wishes and all hope to hear more good news on his recovery.
While we are waiting for the last basho of the Heisei era, Sports Hochi published a series of articles featuring the 64th Yokozuna Akebono, one of the leading figures to usher in this era, interviewed at the hospital where he is currently admitted.
I thought I should share this with the readers of Tachiai, as information about the ailing former Yokozuna has been scarce. If you recall, Akebono has been active in his pro-wrestling career and in social media, when suddenly, in April 2017, He seemed to have dropped off the face of the Earth. One news source revealed that he suffered heart failure and was in an induced coma. His family denied this at the time, claiming he suffered from a leg infection, but in fact, the original report has been true. Since then we have learned that he regained consciousness and was undergoing rehabilitation, but the full situation remained unclear. This Hochi article helps put things in order.
As it turns out, he was feeling unwell for a while when he had his last pro-wrestling event at Omuta, Fukuoka. Following the event, back in his hotel, he started feeling chest pains. The next day, April 12th 2017, he went to the hospital (by car, not ambulance), and walked on his own feet to the examination room. However, in mid-examination, he lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. His heart stopped beating for 37 minutes.
His daughter, Caitlyn, who is studying in Hawaii, took a flight back to Japan, and together with her brothers, Cody and Connor, joined their mother, Christine, in the care of their father, until he regained his consciousness on April 25th. During this time he was transferred, in a two-day overland journey, from the Fukuoka hospital to a Tokyo facility.
The former Yokozuna weighed 210kg, but his weight dropped during his hospitalization as low as 130kg, though now he has gained some back and weighs at 150kg. He suffers memory loss, and has lost the use of his legs. At first, when he gained consciousness, he mistook his own sons for his two brothers, George and Randy. This was quite a shock for his wife, Christine. He seemed to have switched back to his childhood. She decided to think of it as if she gained a third, big son.
Akebono recalls little of his restless pro-wrestling days, but he recollects his Yokozuna days well, and remembered the author of the Hochi articles, who used to be his personal beat reporter. He can move himself in his wheelchair by his own power. He exercises walking, but only when externally held upright. He has some difficulty communicating. He speaks in short sentences: “good times”, “I remember”, etc., and his wife helps him with some English mixed in with Japanese.
This post is mostly based on the first article in the series. The other articles are a walk down memory lane.
- Despite memory loss, the first foreign Yokozuna does not forget his fights with the Waka-Taka brothers.
- To the Sumo community, the Waka-Taka era didn’t really exist.
- A three-way playoff with the Waka-Taka brothers that reached 66.7% rating.
- Akebono’s respect towards the brothers’ stablemaster and father, Futagoyama oyakata
- Aiming at taking part in the Tokyo Paralympics with the Waka-Taka brothers.
(Yeah, the titles of these articles are somewhat Waka-Taka centered…)
The correct answer to the Twitter Quiz was B: Chiyonofuji. I admit, I would not have known the answer without looking up the data in the SumoDB. As reader @henzinovitost pointed out, Akebono, Hakuho, and Takanohana had rather rapid rises into the salaried ranks. The long reigns at Yokozuna are apparent in the charts of all of these wrestlers.
Which Yokozuna's career is represented here? Poll with choices below. pic.twitter.com/5rlS0np5DE
— 立合 (@tachiai_blog) October 15, 2018
This is the rise of Akebono. Hakuho, Takanohana, and several other Yokozuna had rapid rises like this, though often with a few setbacks in Sandanme or Makushita. By the way, Akebono is literally Rikishi #1 on the SumoDB.