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Those Damn Mongolians Are at It Again

When Mark Duggan and I wrote our statistical analysis of match rigging in sumo wrestling (which also was featured in Freakonomics), I spent a lot of time digging through translations of Japanese media reports of suspected past match rigging incidents. Almost every prior accusation of match rigging had a common theme: it was always a foreign sumo wrestler at the center of the alleged incident. Mongolians were the favorite target by far. Somehow, though, when we analyzed the data, the Japanese-born seemed to be just as corrupt as the foreigners. Funny how that works.

When Freakonomics was published in Japan, we expected to be inundated with Japanese media requests to discuss our sumo allegations. Although the book sold well in Japan (due in large part to the tireless efforts of our fantastic Japanese translator), as far as I can remember, not one Japanese media outlet has contacted us to discuss the sumo wrestling results.

Still, when I heard that there were new allegations of match rigging in sumo, I thought maybe our book might have been the catalyst. You can read the reports (here and here) for yourself.

Turns out it is just those damn Mongolians again.

(Hat tip to Charles Mastellone.)