Saturday, February 24, 2018

1980 Sumo Wrestling Trump / Playing Cards

In 1980, if you were living in Japan, sumo wrestler Chiyonofuji would have been a household name.  His face was plastered on everything it seemed.  Although he hadn't been promoted to the highest rank of Yokozuna yet, it was clear he was headed there.  Finding trading cards of him from this era is somewhat of a challenge and collectors are really limited to mainly these playing cards, or trump cards as they are called in Japan.  These were annual sets released at the Kokugikan and captured 52 of the top ranked wrestlers within a playing card set.  This 1980 set is especially interesting as it has 6 current or future Yokozuna in it as well as 2 of the most popular wresters from the 1970s and 1980s. Lets dive into a few of the wrestlers featured in this set.


Kitanoumi was a beast.  He was the youngest ever Yokozuna at 21 years of age when he was promoted in 1974 and eventually served as the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association.  In 1980 he was on the downhill slop of his career but still managed to eventually reach 24 tournament wins!


Wakanohana was a pretty dismal Yokozuna and won only 4 championships in his career.  Why the sumo association decided to promote to Yokozuna after posting two runner up championships is baffling.  Normally promotion to Yokozuna occurs after two back-to-back championships.  He had a storied life after his active wrestling days were over and eventually he married a girl he met while she was working in a bar.



Maybe even more disappointing than Wakanohana was Mienoumi as a Yokozuna.  He managed only 3 tournament wins and retired a little more than a year after his promotion.   Why he was promoted after two runner up championsips is equally as baffling as Wakanohana.   Although, from a card collectors standpoint, capturing his as a Yokozuna on a card is pretty rare and so its exciting to see him here as the King of Diamonds.  Mienoumi eventually became head of the Japan Sumo Association and became director of the Sumo Museum after he stepped down from that position.


Wajima had a great career as a wrestler, but fell into debt after retirement.  He eventually became a pro wrestler with Giant Baba's promotion to try and pay off those debts.  Wajima is still alive and kicking although not in great health.



Takamiyama (Jesse Kuhhaulua) is forever etched in the pages of sumo history.  As the first foreign winner of a tournament, he gained international fame.....as popular, if not more popular than most of the Yokozuna he fought.  In 1980, he had settled in to being a rank and filer but still would wrestle for another 5 years before retiring and becoming a coach.  If you don't know his story, I'd recommend clicking on the link above and reading about it.  It is very inspirational.


Takanohana was sumo's pretty boy for most of the 1970s and early 1980s.  He was handsome and had a fairly athletic build compared to most wrestlers, however, he couldn't obtain the elusive rank of Yokozuna and stalled out at Ozeki.  He married a beauty queen and they had two handsome sons who eventually went on to become Yokozuna themselves...the first time in history two brothers were Yokozuna.  In 1980s he was nearing the end of his storied career.




Takanosato was relatively old when he was promoted to Yokozuna.  Seen here as a Maegashira-ranked wrestler in 1980, he wouldn't obtain the coveted rank until 3 years later.  Because of his age, he was rather disappointing as a Yokozuna with only 4 championships to his name.



We started off talking about Chiyonofuji and we'll end with him.  Here he is as a Maegashira, but a year later he'd be Yokozuna.  He was extremely skillful, handcome, chiseled and had an amazing physique.  He eventually went on to win 31 championships.  Rumor has it that Chiyonofuji's victory over Takanohana (shown above) is what caused him to retire.  Years later, Takanohana's son, Takahanada, was the reason Chiyonofuji retired after Takahanada beat him.  What goes around comes around I guess.


Here is a picture of the back of the playing cards.






Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2018 BBM Sumo Wrestling Box Break

It is hard to believe another year has passed and BBM's annual sumo set has arrived at the doorstep again.  This year's format hasn't changed since 2015 with a 90-card base set and a 10-card autograph insert set.  These inserts have usually fallen 1 card per 2-3 boxes, but I am not an autograph chaser so as long as I can get close to a base set I will be happy.  The main "drama" with this year's set is the retirement of Yokozuna Harumafuji due to an abuse scandal.  He was forced to retire at the beginning of December so BBM had to scramble to erase all memories of him from this 2018 set since they were probably in the final stages of production.  Consequently, there are only 69 rikishi cards along with 31 other subset cards.  I am not sure which new subset cards they had to add due to his removal, but I'm sure it wouldn't have been trivial.  I won't post all the cards I pulled, just some of the more memorable ones.



#12: Takakeisho is definitely one to watch.



#79: Beer and Sumo



#80:  I love these "First Pitch Cards"



#26: Chiyomaru...he is almost hitting 400 pounds!



#51: Abi..all wrestlers can do this...even at a relatively light 300 pounds!




#72: Onosho.  I love these colorful yukata.  I did a post about yukata from the 1960s and the cards they included with the fabric.  Compared to the 1960s, the fabrics these days are very colorful!



#02: Yokozuna Kisenosato...the first Japanese Yokozuna in a long time.



#84:  Ichinojo..... great way to gain weight.


#01: Yokozuna Hakuho....the all time tournament win champion with 40!



#60: Hidenoumi....real men wear pink!



#03: Yokozuna Kakuryu....the last of the Yokozuna cards in this set.



Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

2018 Japanese Olympic Curling Team - 2017 BBM Infinity Set

Let's face it...there needs to be more curling card sets produced.  This sport seem to be gaining more and more popularity each and every Olympics.  I remember that before the 1998 Nagano Olympics the majority of people had never heard of curling (me included).  After it was first televised that year, it became almost an instant hit and each and every Olympics it is one sport I really look forward to watching.  The Japanese team is ranked in the Top 10 worldwide in both men's and women's curling, but are not favored to medal in the Olympics this year.  Regardless, they have a pretty solid team.  The Japanese did not do an Olympic set this year, but they did manage to capture the Japanese Olympic team in the 2017 BBM Infinity Set.  Sadly, I don't have all the 10 curling cards in the set, but here are the six that I do have.

#80: Yusuke Morozumi - not shown
#81: Tetsuro Shimizu
#82: Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi
#83: Kosuke Morozumi
#84: Kosuke Hirata
#85: Satsuki Fujisawa - not shown
#86: Chinami Yoshida
#87: Yumi Suzuki - not shown
#88: Yurika Yoshida
#89: Mari Motohashi - not shown