Well, to be fair, Ian Fleming, the author of the Bond novels, started the myth. The popularity of James Bond kept it going. People still ask debunkers about it today. We'll tell you what it was (some of you can guess) and put it to rest once and for all.
There are plenty of reasons why people need to get their facts from high school health classes, not James Bond novels. The chief among them is the myth that has been going around since You Only Live Twice, a novel in which James Bond goes to Japan and passes as Japanese. The end of the book involves amnesia and a movie star named Kissy Suzuki (sigh), but it's generally a fact at the beginning that gets a lot of play. James Bond is getting lessons on how to be Japanese, and is told, by his teacher, that sumo wrestlers can retract their testicles into their body.
It's not surprising that that caught the attention of readers. Fleming built a compelling case for the idea, with the character insisting that the characters were trained to do this at an early age, and kept practicing into adulthood. The testicles were sucked into the abdomen and shielded by the pelvis from the copious ball-kicks that sumo wrestlers apparently deliver to their opponents.
This is not so. While some believe that the testicles could be induced to partially retract and descend by those who really focus on yoga and meditation, few yogis, athletes, or spiritualists seem to find the idea of years of training in order to partially de-teste themselves particularly inviting. And while different sumo training facilities don't advertise their training tricks - for obvious reasons - no book or history on sumo ever mentions the practice. As far as we can tell, this idea is entirely debunked.
This week, on We Come From the Future, Annalee and I talk about James Bond books and movies, and how they compare to each other. We also try out a James Bond type stealth flame-thrower. Check it out!