Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Live Sumo Is Rigged

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I first read about it in the New York Times after Kid Dynamite pointed out an article: In Text Messages, Signs of a Rigged Sumo Fight.

Yes, live Sumo is rigged. Confirmation of the scandal is a small victory for the tin foil hat-wearing Alex Jones disciples, not to mention a menagerie of pissed off gamblers in Japan who bet on the wrong side of the fix.

Sumo wresting is to Japan what baseball is to America. It's their national past time, a sport deeply rooted in religious traditions. Sumo champions are treated like gods among mere mortals. Their portraits are hung all over major cities in homage to their skill, power, strength, and honor.

The underbelly of the Sumo world recently reared its ugly head. I'm positive that rigged matches in Japan occurred for centuries, but those calamities were dealt with in a discreet fashion.

In the 21st century, it's tough to keep suspicious minds away from questioning the legitimacy of matches. Sumo, much like American professional sports, has an incestuous and symbiotic relationship with big business interests. The public's fervent following has blurred the lines between sport and entertainment. It came to no surprise that Japan's national past time was also plagued with their own scandalous affairs, including wrestlers caught using illegal performance enhancing drugs and rigging matches.

Yeah, live Sumo is rigged. So what?

Sumo was the last bastion of hope. It's disappointing to see that one of the last honorable sport had veered away from its competitive tradition. They are one step away from becoming an absurd spectacle, like America's pro wrestling circuits. Japan was one of the few cultures in which a man was measured by his integrity. Taking a dive was a dishonor yourself, let alone a sincere dishonor to the entire Sumo community of wrestlers, trainers, promoters, fans, and even the guy who gets paid to wipe the arses of ginormous wrestlers.

The Yakuaza's nefarious tentacles infiltrated the Sumo world and as a result, Japan's ruthless mafia were the masterminds behind dozens of embarrassing gambling-related scandals. Some of the scandals branched out into other sports. Most recently, a former Sumo wrestler-turned-bookie who worked for the Yamaguchi-gumi (the baddest and most dangerous faction of the Yakuza), got busted in a baseball betting ring. Supposedly, one of the bosses from Yamaguchi-gumi offered the wrestler a salaried job as a bookie. The boss sent the wrestler a "tout sheet", which handicapped baseball games. The wrestler then forward the tout sheet to his full roster of clients. Those suckers turned around and made wagers with the wrestler-turned-bookie based on their intel. Whether the information was legit or not, it didn't really matter because gambling addicts can't so no, but they love the "psychological cushion" that accompanies a tout sheet or any inside information on a game that they think gives them a tremendous edge versus the rest of the gambling public. Doesn't matter if it's the NFL or Japanes baseball...degens are looking for an excuse to bet big.

When I was a kid, I remember when I first learned that sometimes sporting events are fixed. To this day, my old man and our neighborhood bookie, Nine-a-Half-Fingered Vinny, swore on their mothers' graves that the second Sonny Liston-Muhammad Ali fight was fixed. Liston got knocked out on a so-called phantom punch. Who knows is Liston was really afraid of getting killed by militant African-American Muslims, or if a wiseguy gave him a truckload of cash to kiss the canvas? When I found out that some boxing matches were rigged, I lost interest and never really became a boxing fan, instead enjoying the early days of the WWF (a few years before Hulkamania went runnin' wild and before WWF had to change their name to WWE).

Bottom line -- no matter what the event (Sumo, boxing, college basketball, U.S. Presidential elections, online poker) -- if huge sums of money are involved, someone will try to manipulate the outcome for their own financial benefit.

Gordon Gekko said it first: "Greed is good." But the money is even sweeter bet on the right side of the fix.

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For more betting scandals pertaining to sports betting, I also penned... Syracuse Point-Shaving Rumors Debunked; Major College Basketball Betting Scandal Averted?


  1. Liston absolutely took a dive in that fight. He is one of the most tragic stories in American athletics. The greatest puncher who ever lived, he was also an uneducated thug and a junkie who was easily manipulated by some serious mobsters. There is an amazing biography of him called The Devil and Sonny Liston by the great writer Nick Tosches. One of the best books written about the seamy underside of boxing.

  2. Freakonomics (or perhaps the sequel, SuperFreakonomics) discussed the subject of rigged sumo matches in depth. Apparently, there is a longstanding tradition of rigging sumo matches.

  3. What HigOnPoker said -- and it has always been an interesting point to me what or if the implications are to the opponent/opposing team if they DON'T know the fix is in? Would Ali have beat Liston straight up the second time? What "champion" would lose so much ego & confidence from learning a fight was rigged that it would be worse for them than a legitimate defeat? Would the NBA be interesting to watch again...