Sumo Commentator Doreen Simmons Dead At 85

Doreen Simmons the unlikely voice of sumo, analyzing matches in English for NHK, the country’s public broadcaster, for a quarter-century, passed away on April 23rd in her home in Tokyo, at the age of 85.

Ms. Simmons, who last worked on television in March, died at home in Tokyo on April 23 at 85, according to St. Alban’s Anglican-Episcopal Church in Tokyo, where she was a congregant. Father William Bulson, the church’s rector, said in an email that the cause was a pulmonary condition.

“The thing about sumo is that it’s so simple,” Ms. Simmons said during a TEDx talk at Meiji University in Tokyo in 2016. “The first time you see it, you know what’s going on. But when you start learning more about it, there are so many extra things, so many details.”

Simmons’ passion for sumo came when she first read about it while teaching in Singapore in 1967. “My original interest was in its survival from the past, but after a while I got to know some of the middle-ranking wrestlers, along with some extremely knowledgeable Japanese fans, who fueled my interest,” Simmons claimed in a 2012 interview with Vice.

Her fanaticism turned into journalism, as she would right for two English language magazines, prior to becoming the English-language voice of NHK’s broadcasts in 1992.

“At the beginning, there were three play-by-play men who had experience of broadcasting games like baseball, but their knowledge of basic sumo was newly acquired and pretty limited,” she said in an interview last year with The Daily Express, a British newspaper.

“They wanted the color provided by commentators like me who were hired because we were already knowledgeable about some aspect of sumo.”

Ms. Simmons received the Order of the Rising Sun, one of the Japanese government’s highest honors, last year.

“I have simply never thought of myself in those terms,” she told The Nottingham Post, adding, “I get the feeling that, since most of the Japanese people don’t know anybody who got one of these decorations, they are a way of spreading happiness.”


Original Story: New York TImes

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