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Morning Briefing

The Winner Deserves the 10,000 Rice Cakes

January 26, 1988

The new king of sumo wrestling in Japan is Asahifuji, a 27-year-old newcomer who defeated longtime champion Chiyonofuji last Sunday in Tokyo.

Wrote Graham Earnshaw of Reuters: "The victor's prizes included the Emperor's Cup, 10,000 rice cakes, a year's supply of gasoline and a vase from the Hungarian Embassy, plus an undisclosed, but large, sum of money donated by major Japanese corporations.

"An out-of-breath Asahifuji, asked how he felt about his victory, told reporters: 'I don't know,' thereby maintaining the time-honored tradition of inarticulateness among sumo wrestlers.

"The win climaxed 15 days of competition in which quivering mountains of near-naked flesh squared off against each other on national television every afternoon.

"It was a rare defeat for Chiyonofuji, 32, known as The Wolf. In the sumo world of obesity, Chiyonofuji, with his lean, mean physique is something of an exception, and a great favorite with the ladies. "He's got a great body," said one female fan.

"On Saturday, The Wolf was also beaten by Konishiki, the grossly fat Hawaiian. Konishiki, 23, known to his fans as Sally, is the fattest wrestler ever to enter the professional sumo ring, experts say."

Sally weighs 545 pounds.

Add Sumo: It's the most popular sport in Japan, along with baseball, but not all the citizens appreciate its virtues.

Wrote one reader to the Japan Times: "What sort of society would elevate brute force and ignorance to an almost godly height?"

The letter was signed "Bored With Buttocks."

From Wallace Matthews of Newsday: "Perpetually out-of-shape Tony (Incredible Bulk) Tubbs is training with Lou (Incredible Hulk) Ferrigno so he'll at least look like something against Mike Tyson March 21 in Tokyo. Tubbs probably doesn't want to be mistaken for a sumo wrestler."

Trivia Time: Alumni Hall, Assembly Hall and Freedom Hall are the home courts for what schools in college basketball? (Answer below.)

How close did James Harris come to being the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl? Tom Mack could tell you.

To this day, Mack claims he wasn't offside on the turning-point play in the 1974 National Football Conference championship game between the Rams and Minnesota Vikings.

The Rams had second and goal on the Minnesota one-foot line when Mack was cited. The Rams were penalized, and two plays later Harris was intercepted. The Vikings won, 14-10.

Said Mack: "I guarantee I didn't move. The head linesman away from the play made the call. He told the umpire, 'I think the guard moved.' There was no way I moved."

Add Harris: He and Washington quarterback Doug Williams are products of Grambling where they played for Eddie Robinson.

Says Harris, now a scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "Doug is the best college quarterback I ever saw. I should know. He broke my records--in warm-ups. He wiped me clean out of the book. He was so talented that Coach Robinson just let him throw."

Trivia Answer: St. John's, Indiana, Louisville.

Quotebook

Washington Redskins center Jeff Bostic, recalling preparations for the 1984 Super Bowl in which the Redskins lost to the Raiders, 38-9: "You know, Coach Gibbs told us to just spend the nights as we would if we were home. Unfortunately, too many guys did just that."

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