American Sumotori’s First Tournament
During the Kyushu basho, we noted with some excitement that a young man from Texas, Ichiro Young, had been training with the Mushashigawa stable in Japan, and had applied to join the ranks of professional sumo. He had been accepted during Kyushu after passing the the Maezumo competition successfully, winning all 3 of his bouts. We were eager to see what he could do in Jonokuchi.
Following the acceptance ceremony, Ichiro Young took the ring name “Wakaichiro” (若一郎), which literally means Young Ichirio. Jonokuchi ranked wrestlers only fight for 7 of a tournament’s 15 days. Wakaichiro faced a variety of opponents in is debut tournament, and fought well. But in spite of his efforts, he came away with a losing (3-4) record.
The Jonokuchi rank encompasses rikishi just starting their sumo careers, as well as more experienced rikishi who are re-entering sumo after medical treatment or some absence. Wakaichiro won decisively against opponents that were starting their careers, but had difficulty with opponents that had re-joined sumo from higher ranks.
Wakaichiro is 5′ 10″ 250 pounds, and played a fair share of American football during his youth in Texas, and is clearly very comfortable blasting off the line and using his strength to move his opponents. But in his first tournament, he was clearly new to the sport, and had much to learn. Tachiai thinks that even though he had a slight losing record, he shows a great deal of promise, and we are looking for significant improvements in Osaka.