Not allowed, even for a yokozuna: Sumo champ Hakuho dressed down for ‘3 cheers’

Sumo grand champion Hakuho’s three bouts of rhythmic hand-clapping did not go down well with the highly-ritualized sport’s governing body. (AFP)
Updated 25 April 2019
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Not allowed, even for a yokozuna: Sumo champ Hakuho dressed down for ‘3 cheers’

  • The three bouts of rhythmic hand-clapping did not go down well with the highly-ritualized sport’s governing body
  • The popular Hakuho, born Munkhbat Davaajargal, has earned praise for helping restore dignity to sumo

TOKYO: Mongolian sumo grand champion Hakuho has been reprimanded for leading the crowd in an impromptu round of hand-clapping after winning a tournament last month, a spokeswoman for the ancient sport said Thursday.
The 34-year-old “Yokozuna” — or grand champion — received a dressing-down from top officials after what Hakuho described as a “spur-of-the-moment act” he did “to make spectators happy.”
But the three bouts of rhythmic hand-clapping, equivalent to “three cheers,” did not go down well with the highly-ritualized sport’s governing body, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA).
JSA chairman Hakkaku said in a statement “I told Hakuho that I wanted him to observe sumo’s tradition, discipline, courtesy and stylistic beauty as a Yokozuna.”
The spokeswoman declined to give a precise reason for the reprimand but public broadcaster NHK noted that the hand-clapping came before the traditional ceremony that usually concludes a sumo tournament.
She said the hulking Mongolian had been given an “oral reprimand,” the lightest punishment in the governing body’s armory but also noted he had received a warning previously in 2017 for similar actions.
The popular Hakuho, born Munkhbat Davaajargal, has earned praise for helping restore dignity to sumo following a series of scandals that have tarnished the reputation of a sport said to date back some 2,000 years.
But he is not without his critics among staunch sumo traditionalists, who dislike his wild wrestling style and occasional protests against judges.
Hakuho’s stablemaster, sumo elder Miyagino, was hit with a stiffer penalty of a 10-percent salary cut for three months, for neglecting his leadership duties, the JSA spokeswoman said.
Sumo has taken a battering in recent years — from allegations of bout-fixing and the involvement of organized crime to drugs arrests and severe bullying, the most serious case resulting in the death of a teenage wrestler in 2007.
Yokozuna Harumafuji was charged over a brutal assault on a rival wrestler while out drinking in 2017, ending his illustrious career.
The sport was plunged into further controversy last year when women who rushed to the aid of a local mayor who had collapsed during a speech were repeatedly told to leave the ring, sparking a flurry of embarrassing headlines.
The punishment comes as local media reported Hakuho has applied for Japanese citizenship — a requirement of all foreign wrestlers wishing to become sumo elders.
The move was seen as an indication of Hakuho’s intention to remain in the sumo world after he eventually retires.


Game of Thrones reaches its end, with one or two shocks left

Updated 20 May 2019
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Game of Thrones reaches its end, with one or two shocks left

  • The last episode of the medieval fantasy based on the novels of George R.R. Martin ran roughly an hour and 20 minutes
  • The series had become the cornerstone of HBO’s primetime offerings, but its final season was also its most divisive

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the final episode of “Game of Thrones.”
After eight seasons and 73 episodes, HBO’s long-running smash series, “Game of Thrones,” wrapped up on Sunday, with one more shocking demise and an unlikely character named as king.
The last episode of the medieval fantasy based on the novels of George R.R. Martin ran roughly an hour and 20 minutes to conclude the storyline of more than a dozen characters and intertwining plots.
The fierce competition for the fictional Iron Throne — the seat for the show’s ruler, made of hundreds of swords — ended with a death and an unexpected choice to rule the fictional kingdom of Westeros.
The series had become the cornerstone of HBO’s primetime offerings, but its final season was also its most divisive, with both fans and critics finding specific plot twists, particularly the handling of one primary character, troubling.
HBO says the record-breaking final season drew 43 million viewers on average for each episode in the United States alone, an increase of 10 million over Season 7 in 2017.
Most notable in fans’ criticism was the malevolent turn by Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen, the “Dragon Queen,” who used her dragon to lay waste to the show’s fictional capital after her enemies had surrendered.
The move angered fans, as the episode, titled “The Bells,” now garners the weakest ratings of all episodes in the eight-season run on Rottentomatoes.com, which aggregates critics’ reviews.
Brutal acts by Clarke’s character in previous seasons were similar to those of other leaders, but many viewers saw the decision to kill tens of thousands of innocent people as too drastic, based on her previous actions.
The final episode features her death at the hands of Jon Snow, her lover (and nephew, among numerous incestuous relationships portrayed), played by Kit Harington, who kills her, fearing her tyranny merely mirrors that of predecessors.
Her last living dragon then burns the Iron Throne, melting it down with his fiery breath.
Without a ruler, numerous members of the show’s noble houses eventually make an unexpected choice of king, settling on Brandon Stark, played by Isaac Hempstead Wright.
In the premiere episode in 2011, Brandon was pushed from a high tower, crippling him, but awakening mystical powers that eventually allowed him to see the past and the future.
Some critics viewed the Sunday episode’s choice as odd, since Stark’s abilities implied he foresaw the events, including the deaths of thousands, that would leave him ruler.
“He’s got the whole history of Westeros stockpiled in his head, so how is he going to be able to concentrate on running a kingdom?” wrote Rebecca Patton on Bustle.com.
From its ragged beginnings — its original pilot was never aired, instead undergoing substantial re-shoots and recasting of several characters — the series became a cultural phenomenon.
Its budgets grew, with the last season’s cost running as high as $15 million per episode, Variety says. It also won numerous primetime television Emmy Awards, including three for “Best Drama.”
It became known for unexpected, nerve-wracking moments, including the first season’s death of Eddard Stark, the nobleman played by Sean Bean, highlighted in a marketing campaign, and Season 3’s “Red Wedding,” a massacre in fictional wars that author Martin based on medieval Scottish history.
HBO, owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, is already planning a prequel series, set thousands of years earlier, while creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff are scheduled to make the next series of “Star Wars” films.