Sumo tegata hold intimate and unique place among sports memorabilia

Yokozuna Hakuho’s sudden retirement despatched shockwaves via the world of sumo final month.

The legendary wrestler might have been absent for many of the previous two years, however his continued capacity to dominate the competitors when participating in tournaments ensured that there was an intimidating presence atop the rankings, and offered a formidable psychological barrier to any rikishi with ambitions of grandeur.

With out Hakuho, the duty of sustaining sumo’s pure order turns into the purview of latest yokozuna Terunofuji. The highly effective veteran confirmed he was as much as the problem by claiming a fifth Emperor’s Cup in September, however along with his thirtieth birthday simply over a month away, and an in depth damage historical past, it stays to be seen simply how lengthy the Isegahama secure man can maintain his present stage of efficiency.

Actually, the abrupt removing of essentially the most dominant rikishi the game has ever seen opens up all title races within the close to time period as Terunofuji, for all his excellence, is only one wrestler, and the drop-off in stage under him is important. The possibility of seeing one other spate of first-time champions has elevated with Hakuho’s departure.

Outdoors the ring, the yokozuna’s retirement has each instant and long-term implications. For the Japan Sumo Affiliation, the dearth of a headline rivalry must be regarding. Early experiences on the upcoming November event in Fukuoka point out ticket gross sales for the occasion are going extraordinarily slowly — even bearing in mind COVID-19 enforced seating reductions and that individual location’s traditionally poor attendance numbers.

Hakuho, after all, will play a job in making an attempt to treatment the state of affairs as he settles into recruiting and training future generations of stars.

The yokozuna’s retirement does, nevertheless, introduce a further consequence for the broader sumo group.

Autographed handprints (tegata) are the game’s most distinctive and fascinating type of memorabilia. For followers and collectors alike, getting maintain of tegata of their favourite rikishi can typically be an concerned course of, however one which brings a particular form of reward.

Handprints are a uniquely genuine memento. Not like, say, dwelling run balls in baseball, which the participant in query might have by no means truly touched, or a rapidly scribbled felt-pen signature on a generic merchandise of clothes in different sports activities, there may be an intimacy that comes with having the imprint of each line in a person’s hand alongside his private calligraphy in your wall.

As well as, real handprints are by no means offered, however as an alternative given to supporters and pals as thank-you presents. Relatively than easy merchandise designed solely to boost cash for the athlete or workforce, a tegata’s objective is to deepen the connection between rikishi and followers.

In sumo, tegata are usually made solely after promotion to the jūryō division, and it’s frequent apply for wrestlers to cease making them as soon as retired.

After an preliminary batch is made upon turning into sekitori, how typically or what number of handprints a rikishi makes is as much as the person themselves.

Invariably, when a preferred or nice yokozuna retires, costs for his or her tegata at on-line public sale websites see a spike as manufacturing ceases however demand rises.

Followers wishing to carry onto a bit of historical past additionally means retirements invariably deliver a sudden drop within the variety of handprints accessible.

Even so, costs for tegata — or certainly any genuine sumo merchandise — pale compared to these seen in different sports activities.

The most costly piece of sporting memorabilia ever offered is the unique copy of The Olympic Manifesto signed by Pierre de Coubertin, which went beneath the hammer in 2019 for nearly $9 million.

That, after all, was an excessive case for one thing that has no parallel, however quite a few objects from the early days of baseball have fetched seven-figure sums through the years.

These costs have usually come for objects related to Babe Ruth — an nearly legendary determine in that sport.

Sumo has equally fabled champions from centuries previous, however their memorabilia may be acquired for a lot much less.

Babe Ruth jerseys, bats, rings and signed contracts have offered for thousands and thousands of {dollars}, whereas a keshō-mawashi (an ornate apron type belt) worn by 32-time champion yokozuna Taiho has sat unsold on-line for months priced at solely $4,700.

Even amongst modern legends, the worth disparity between sumo and North American sports activities paraphernalia is placing. Tegata of Hakuho or current yokozuna may be acquired for lower than one-twentieth of the worth of these created for merchandising firms by basketball gamers Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

As with Tremendous Bowl or different championship rings, uncommon and particular objects in Japan’s nationwide sport additionally attain the open market from time to time, however in nearly each case the listed worth is a fraction of what it might be in the US.

Sumo has a variety of merchandise accessible, the whole lot from posters and t-shirts to rikishi-branded curries and different foodstuffs. Over the previous five-to-six years particularly, the vary of things accessible has continued to develop because the merchandise market matures.

The sumo buying and selling card market has, like its contemporaries in different sports activities, seen a rise in costs all through the pandemic, as followers discovered themselves at dwelling with extra time to spend on their collections.

Tegata, although, nonetheless maintain a novel significance for many followers. In addition to being a tangible hyperlink to the previous, autographed handprints permit the form of intimate reference to athletes not typically present in different sports activities — and at a worth that places them inside attain of unusual followers.

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