There is an uproar in the sumo world.
Former yokozuna Hakuho (38, Miyagino Oyakata) is running for the board of directors of the Japan Sumo Association. It is common knowledge in the sumo world that one must have a career of about 10 years as a stablemaster in order to become a board member. Hakuho took over the Miyagino stable in July of last year. Running for the board in his first year as a stablemaster would be the most unusual of unusual situations.
According to the May 20 issue of Shukan Gendai, Hakuho announced his intention to run at a reception held in April by the Isegahama clan, to which the Miyagino stable belongs. It is said that Hakuho, who has won 45 championships and 1,187 white stars, the most in his career, was encouraged to run for the board by his tanimachi and close acquaintances, who did not want him to do menial work. They wanted him to become a board member as soon as possible and do his job as he wished.
Hakuho is an uninhibited character who does not stick to convention. He seems to have accepted the advice of those around him, and his feelings have hardened.
But that can’t be true.
Candidates for the board of trustees election, which is held once every two years, are often coordinated in advance and the election is held according to a timetable. The past two elections were uncontested. In the past two elections, there were no votes, and the number of candidates was equal to the number of seats available (10).
Hakuho’s candidacy for the board of trustees is not taken seriously by the top management of the Sumo Association, including Chancellor Yasutoshi Hakkaku. They said, ‘There is no way he will run for the board of trustees. However, the stablemasters of the Isegahama clan are pale in the face of Hakuho’s seriousness. If he is elected to the board of trustees and the seniority system is broken, they will be looked at in a negative light. They are desperately trying to keep Hakuho from running for the board of trustees, saying, ‘Please wait a few more years.
What is Hakuho’s aim in running for the board of trustees?
Hakuho has always wanted to make sumo a sport open to foreign countries. He wanted to make the traditional culture of Japan widely known to people in other countries. Perhaps he wants to change the old structure by becoming a board member.
He also has a plan to eventually revamp his own Miyagino-ya into an image that symbolizes Japan. He seems to have travelers from overseas in mind. He would like to make the room a glass wall so that anyone can observe the practice sessions. He would like to proudly introduce his work to the people of his native Mongolia.
The former yokozuna’s passion has not waned since his retirement. Will the executives of the Japan Sumo Association accept Hakuho’s innovative ideas?
PHOTO： Keitaro Haga