Sumo Wresting & Betting

When browsing the BBC website earlier today, along with the top story that Paul the pyschic octopus has predicted that Spain will beat Germany, I noticed an intriguing report on a new betting scandal in Japanese Sumo Wrestling.

It appears that a number of wrestlers and trainers have admitted to illegal betting on baseball and other sports, which is kicking up quite a storm. This is because Sumo Wresting is a highly respected sport in Japan with certain standards expected of competitors. Illegal betting and subsequent links with Japanese gangsters is not what the followers of this sport expect.  I imagine it to be the equivalent of hearing about a Croquet or Crown Green Bowling drugs scandal!

Betting controversy and Sumo Wrestling is not new though and anyone who read the fascinating analysis on this sport as undertaken by the authors of cult book ‘Freakonomics’ will testify. In the book through data mining they were able to demonstrate what they believe to be the existence of cheating among sumo wrestlers. Allow me to quote from Wikipedia…

“In a sumo tournament, all wrestlers in the top division compete in 15 matches and face demotion if they do not win at least eight of them. The sumo community is very close-knit, and the wrestlers at the top levels tend to know each other well. The authors looked at the final match, and considered the case of a wrestler with seven wins, seven losses, and one fight to go, fighting against an 8-6 wrestler. Statistically, the 7-7 wrestler should have a slightly below even chance, since the 8-6 wrestler is slightly better.

However, the 7-7 wrestler actually wins around 80% of the time. Levitt uses this statistic and other data gleaned from sumo wrestling matches, along with the effect that allegations of corruption have on match results, to conclude that those who already have 8 wins collude with those who are 7-7 and let them win, since they have already secured their position for the following tournament.”

Therefore be warned, any of you contemplating a bet on Sumo Wrestling anytime in the near future!