Nagoya Story 3 – Wakaichiro Jonidan 26 East


American Sumotori Continues To Advance

Tachiai’s favorite American rikishi, Texan Wakaichiro, ended his Natsu tournament with a 4-3 kachi-koshi, and earning him a lift up the banzuke. With the Nagoya banzuke now published, we find him listed at Jonidan 26 East, and within striking range of promotion to Sandanme with a strong winning record.

With each successive tournament, Wakaichiro shows significant improvement in technique, confidence and strength. Clearly the coaching staff at Musashigawa heya are working him into ever improving condition.

As with prior basho, Tachiai will bring you coverage of Wakaichiro’s matches as soon as results are published, and video as soon as we can find it on YouTube. Special hat tip to “One and Only” on YouTube who has been the source of so many of our Wakaichiro’s videos.

15 thoughts on “Nagoya Story 3 – Wakaichiro Jonidan 26 East

  1. Hey Bruce, do you have a rough idea what time the Jonidan rikishi start their matches? I’m struggling to find much for timing in the lower divisions other than generally lower divisions start st 8:30

    • So I was finding it varied from day to day. I suggest getting there by 9:30 to catch the Jonidan matches. Given Wakaichiro’s rank, you should be there by 10:00 to 10:30. There is no break between Jonikuchi and Jonidan, they just roll right into the next division. So if you are not paying close attention to the usher’s announcements, you may not realize they changed over.

    • Average gross time per lower-division bout is 2 minutes 15 seconds or so, and there should be ~50 bouts (plus one short break in mid-jonidan) before Wakaichiro is up, so that’s about two hours in a “normal” day, perhaps a bit less. Concur with Bruce, if you’re there by 10:00 you won’t be missing him.

  2. Wow, I wish we could find some way to support him and become a fan club or something, it must be so incredibly tough to be immersed in the heya culture, especially coming from the US where sumo is more of a caricature than anything. If only he knew he at least had a handful of supporters, maybe it would boost his spirits.

    • So he is aware of this site, and does visit from time to time. When I spoke to him in Tokyo, he was surprised and humbled that he would have any fans as just a low-level rikishi.

      There will come a time, maybe by later this year, when people willing to support him will need to start organizing. This will be interesting given that these clubs are usually based out of Japan, so it may be a bit weird. I would like to help out, too. If we are so fortunate that at some point he becomes a sekitori, his fans will need to raise money to buy his Keshō-mawashi.

      • As a member of a stable run by a recent yokozuna, I doubt he’ll need to worry about not having enough kesho-mawashi support. :)

        As long as he’s still rather far away from the sekitori ranks, one interesting bit to follow might be how quickly he moves up within his own stable. Currently he’s #7 out of 16.

        • I’ll be interested to see if Musashimaru will be able to develop any of what is an extremely young crop of rikishi into sekitori challengers. To your point, it looks like Wakaichiro could be able to at least make a push for top man in the next year, as only 1 or 2 of the guys in front of him are on a good run and many of the folks behind have middling results as well.

          (obviously I know at this level even 1 basho with 5 wins can totally turn that upside down)

          • Maru has definitely been recruiting very aggressively, which is probably the right way to go about it early on – got to find some diamonds in the rough while your stable is not yet on the radar of blue-clip prospects. If I recall correctly, the biggest hype thus far was for 16-year-old Tokuda and of course for Maru’s nephew, although Musashikuni hasn’t impressed that much yet…came in with no sumo experience though so it’s hard to say how much he can still improve. (I’m skeptical.) Tokuda will be interesting to watch this basho, having made a big jump into sandanme off a 6-1 record.

          • I was impressed by how much of a media footprint *maru still has in Japan. You are right that he needs to grow fast and work to get someone on TV to really launch his heya into a higher bracket.

            This is going to sound callous, be he needs to grind through some young people to find some contenders. As is frequently the case, even the most promising acolyte can hit a wall earlier than expected. It’s also interesting to me that even fans who take the time to buy tickets and go to the basho are sometimes focused almost exclusively on Makuuchi. Many of the lower division up-and-comers don’t get much attention unless something amazing happens.

          • I bet the majority of the people in the arena would struggle to correctly name 10 current maegashira before watching the day’s competition, let alone know who the top prospects in the lower ranks are. Paying attention to the lower divisions is pure geekdom, same as in any sport IMHO. You can’t fill arenas just with us.

        • I would agree with you, but my ulterior motive is to help build a sumo fan base in the US in general and Texas specifically. A guy like Mr. Young can do a lot to popularize the sport of sumo when the time is right. So I think having a cadre of US fans is going to be a help.

          • I’m just trying to say that there’s a big difference between just organizing a fan club-type thing and a “proper” kōenkai support group – members of the latter aren’t just encouraged to pitch in financially with a sekitori’s career, they’re expected to.

          • So do you think that Mr. Young has the ability to be like the Tim Howard for soccer fans? I’d love to see Wakaichiro really make a name for himself in sumo. He brings pleasure to tons of folks in the US, not just Texas.


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