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The Magic of Winning 8 Times

Monday 7, February, 2011

The world of Sumo wrestling is being troubled by a match-fixing scandal.
I am not interested in Sumo wrestling and could not understand
what all the fuss was about.
When I put aside my indifference and listened carefully to the news
I found that the fixed fight related to
“the magic of winning eight times.”
If you know all about Sumo wrestling please skip the next few paragraphs
and start reading from the bottom.
A Sumo wrestler’s rank is decided in “basho” (場所)tournaments
held in spring, summer, etc.
There are six tournaments a year, and there is a large difference
between the annual income of the senior grade, called Maku-uchi,
and the junior grade, called Maku-shita.
Of course the treatment in Sumo stables is very different,
with the junior grade having a life as an underling.
I could imagine that it is a gigantic disappointment
to junior grade Sumo wrestlers –
“I entered this world to wrestle in an arena,
this is not the life I had dreamed of.”
According to the variety show commentary,
when a Sumo wrestler was demoted to the junior grade
he instantly lost the right to receive prize money.
This is 150 million yen(20,000 US dollars) ,
so that it meant they received zero yen.
This is too much of a difference.
However, I suppose that it is not only the Sumo wrestling world
where power rules. To loose many things when lost,
the ceiling is very high instead.
Anyway, some Sumo wrestlers were more interested
in the money than fair play.
So they received money to fix the fight.
Basically a strong wrestler was asked to lose a fight on purpose,
so that the wrestler who is verging on the title time limit
can keep their position as an elite wrestler.
Sort of, I’ll give you my gratitude if you give me your title.
(I am just guessing that such back room deals exist
in the Sumo wrestling world).
The crucial time limit is the 8th tournament.
Some wrestler’s ranking is decided in 15 matches total.
For example, there is a wrestler who has 7 victories and 7 defeats
by the time of the last tournament.
If he fought with a wrestler who has 8 victories and 6 defeats,
and then loses the last match it would mean that he has 7 victories and 8 defeats.
He can’t get the senior grade title by just one defeat.
Oh damn, it is a pity. Very vexing.
“If I got one more win I could keep being in the elite squad.
Hey friend, we have been fighting for the same length of time
and live under the same roof.
Friends help each other. It’s time for charity,
if you know what I mean.”
I am not sure what they think, but it is foul play.
So some strong wrestlers lose a fight on purpose,
and all is right with the Sumo wrestling world.
It seems to be a bit like that.
Professor Steven David Levitt, has attracted a great deal of attention
with his report of fight fixing in the world of Sumo wrestling.
He is the author of “Freakonomics”.
“Freakonomics” is a word coined to encompass “freak” and “economics”,
and it has sold over 170 million copies in America.
I read this when it went on sale. And a film has been made of this book.
One of the six people who made the omnibus documentary
was director Morgan Spurlock, who is famous for his film SUPER SIZE ME,
which documented how we will all grow fat if we only eat McDonald’s fast food.
He proved this by using his own body as an example.
The Sumo wrestling match-fixing scandal is included in this film also called
“Freakonomics”. The film itself is attracting a lot of attention here in Japan
after two years of world premiere,
especially the person interviewed about the world of Sumo.
The times might catch up with the film.
By the way,
did you know that a Professor of Freakonomics exists in Japan as well?
I’ll talk about his recent controversial academic discussion paper
saying You Tube free download increases DVD sales.
have a good monday!