Plastic Man Has Bulked Up, But Can He Still Move?
Since he joined the ranks of Sumo in 2015, Ura has defied convention. His style is based on maneuver, speed and improvisation. As a result, he quickly moved up the ranks because most of his opponents had no idea what he was doing, or what they could do to defend against the next magic trick he would produce mid-bout.
From his debut in May of 2015, it took him only a year to reach Juryo – and impressive rise. He scored one yusho, and 3 Yusho-doten (where he lost in a playoff to the yusho winner). But once in Juryo, his speed and improvisation could not longer be counted on to carry the day. Ura decided he needed to bulk up in order to stand a chance against the much heavier men in the upper divisions. For a rikishi who’s sumo depends on speed and flexibility, many fans (myself included) worried he would have cultivate an entirely new collection of skills from scratch.
The 2016 Aki basho looked to be a turning point, where he entered the tournament a Juryo 1 East, the top wrestler in the division. He went to rack up a disappointing 6-9 record, and he remained in Juryo while rikishi like Ishiura were promoted to Makuuchi. Now, at long last for his fans, he has reached the upper division, being placed at Maegashira 12 West for the Haru Basho in Osaka (his home town).
Ura has added a great deal of mass, and fans will be watching his Makuuchi debut with great interest. As Andy pointed out, the Juryo crew figured out how to counter his low tachiai, which is what lead to his disastrous Aki score. As could be expected by a dedicated sumotori, Ura went back to the heya and came up with new approaches. He bulked up, adding at least 15 Kg since then, and has had to work hard to adjust his sumo to accommodate his much larger body. Clearly he had a working formula for Juryo, but now we get to see him face off against the top men in Sumo.
Ura is quite different from the common rikishi, his manners, his humble attitude, his general bright and sunny disposition nd amiable nature seem to really be something new and different on the dohyo, and for myself I find it quite compelling.
If readers have yet to watch Ura’s matches, I strongly suggest a quick search of youtube and watching the man in action. Some of what he does may impress you.