Under Review

June 07, 2004
June 07, 2004

Table of Contents
June 7, 2004

Sports Illustratd Bonus Section: Golf Plus
  • Even great hitters aren't immune to horrific slumps. How does a player like Derek Jeter suddenly lose his way at the plate--and how does he find his way back?


Under Review

By Nancy Ramsey Edited by Mark Bechtel

According to legend, we are informed at the outset of Sumo East
and West, the origin of Japan was the result of a sumo match
between the gods. Cut to the film's opening shot--sumo belts
flapping on a clothesline like gigantic bikini underwear--and
it's clear that this documentary (PBS, June 8, 10 p.m.) will take
a less-than-reverent look at the 2,000-year-old sport. But the
film is also less than satisfying at times. When Wakamatsu
Oyakata, a coach and elder, says, "Sumo embodies all that is good
in ancient Japanese culture," you may wish for more explanation.
It is largely through the eyes of the non-Japanese--such as Manny
Yarbrough, a 380-pound lineman from Morgan State who added 370
pounds to become a champion--that we enter the sport's insular
world. Shot partly in Japan, the film offers a cultural lesson:
With losers in American sports there's "cussing and kicking of
sand," says Wayne Vierra, a former pro from Hawaii. "But in sumo
... even if you lost, you know in your heart you're a champion
because you trained hard." --Nancy Ramsey

This is an article from the June 7, 2004 issue Original Layout