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Ex-yokozuna Hakuho begins new role, provides security at Kyushu sumo tournament

Sumo elder Magaki, the former yokozuna Hakuho, center, is seen in a uniform jacket as part of security at Fukuoka Kokusai Center on Nov. 14, 2021. (Mainichi/Yoshiyuki Hirakawa)

FUKUOKA -- Sumo elder Magaki, the retired yokozuna Hakuho, took his first step as a full-fledged stablemaster on Nov. 14 by taking charge of security on the first day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in this southwestern Japan city.

    It is customary in the sumo world for a newly appointed elder to start out as a security guard at a tournament venue wearing the Japan Sumo Association's dark blue jacket. And this was no exception for the former yokozuna, who won a record 45 tournament titles.

    Magaki, who retired after the autumn tournament in September, spent the day supervising the preparation room for juryo-ranked wrestlers and guarding the "hanamichi" passageway to the sumo ring during the second half of the makuuchi division tournament. The wrestlers passing through the hanamichi stopped and bowed deeply as they passed by Magaki before heading for the ring.

    "It was the first time for me to not think about anything on a Saturday (before the first day of the tournament). Everything was fresh and it was a good experience. Since I became an ozeki and yokozuna, I had never found (sumo to be) 'fun,' but today, it was over in a flash. It was a fulfilling day," Magaki said.

    Until now, when someone called Magaki "oyakata," or sumo elder, he sometimes "wondered who they were talking to." After experiencing his first day in his new role, Magaki said, "I felt that I had become an oyakata. In the sumo world, there are not just the stables, but also various departments that work together for the development of sumo. I will do my best to fulfill my job."

    (Japanese original by Masaru Kurokawa, Sports News Department)

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