Discover more from STUMP - Meep on public finance, pensions, mortality and more
Sunday Sumo: Preparing for the May Tournament
Scatterplot update, goodbye to Ichinojo, and ways to win/un-win
One week away from the next Grand Sumo Tournament, and that means an update to the height/weight scatterplot of top sumo wrestlers!
All ready to get marked up as the tournament starts on Mother’s Day (huzzah!) and I can track the winners/losers.
UPDATE: Spreadsheet with data and graph
Why Do I Make This Graph?
For those new to my particular sports fandom, I (and my husband Stu… and we also hooked his dad, too), I’m really into sumo wrestling!
One of the things that really tickled me was that I was able to translate a piece I did for this blog into an article for the Society of Actuaries last year: Interest Rates and Sumo.
Before jumping back to a discussion on Japan, the U.S., and interest rate assumptions, I want to talk about the biggest misconception about sumo: it’s just a bunch of fat guys pushing each other around.
May 2022 Makuuchi Wrestlers
Wakatakakage was the champion for March 2022. He is the third lightest wrestler on this graph, at 131 kg (289 lbs) though of a good height (182 cm; almost 6’). He won against Takayasu in the play-off on the final day. Takayasu is 184 kg and 187 cm. At about the same height, but over 100 pounds lighter than Takayasu, Wakatakakage used some agile footwork at the edge of the ring to win the match.
Some of the lighter but taller guys win against heavier and shorter guys via throwing moves. Some of the short and light guys are fast on their feet and trip up the massive wrestlers. And sometimes, the big guys will just pick up the little guys and set them outside the ring. (Yes, that’s amusing to see.)
Since that March 2022 graph, I’ve been keeping track of the wrestlers, just as Fred Pinkerton keeps track of all the up & down moves in his special ladder visualizations, I like keeping track of the rankings vs. height & weight.
My initial graph just had each rikishi (sumo wrestler) as a data point, but now I color-code by rankings.
Let me put some additional notation:
In 2022, a different rikishi won every month:
January 2022: Mitakeumi
March 2022: Wakatakakage
May 2022: Terunofuji
July 2022: Ichinojo
September 2022: Tamawashi
November 2022: Abi
That ranged from very light (Wakatakakage - 131 kg at the time) to very heavy (Ichinojo - 212 kg, or 467 lbs) for winners, and as you can see, we have relatively short to fairly tall winners as well. This is one of the aspects I love about sumo.
On sumo winning (and non-winning) techniques
The main sumo podcast I listen to is Sumo Kaboom, two sisters in Texas, about my age, talking sumo, and giving their own brand of sumo podcast.
They also have a fun sumo bingo game during the tournaments, which you can sign up for by subscribing (for free) to their substack. I won once via a random draw they do for the non-winners, and got some fun sumo cards, a banzuke, and some stickers that I put on my laptop.
In recent episodes, they talk about methods sumo wrestlers win… and sometimes un-win… matches:
Bruce Henderson in parts 2 & 3 is from the Tachiai Blog is also a great way to read about sumo. It has multiple authors, and Bruce usually does the tournament highlights while the tournaments are ongoing.
Goodbye to Ichinojo
Ichinojo was officially in the May banzuke, meaning the ranking table, but I did not include him in the graph because he had just announced he was retiring:
This was a big surprise, as he had a tournament win in 2022 at the top, and just won Juryo in March.
It’s a harsh sport, and Ichinojo had been way off the scale. I hope he heals.
STUMP - Meep on public finance, pensions, mortality and more is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.