Unlike some banzuke day photos that feature solemn rikishi accepting their rank, Mitakeumi is clearly excited to advance .
College Yokozuna Continues To Shine .
One of the great stories of the past year has been the rise of Mitakeumi. At 24 years, he is not the youngest rikishi in Makuuchi, but he came to sumo via Toyo University, and entered ozumo at Makushita. After a pair of 6-1 tournaments in Makushita during 2015, they sent him to Juryo, where he won the yusho from Juryo 12 with an 11-4 record. He followed that with a 12-3 record in Juryo (his yusho only moved him from J12 to J5!). Following that romp, he was sent to the top division, where he has gone from strength to strength over the past 18 months.
Up until last year, he had been almost exclusively a pusher-thruster (oshi-zumō). But as most find out, that only goes so far in Makuuchi. For many rikishi, that places a hard cap on how much they can achieve. But Mitakeumi expanded his sumo, and began to incorporate yotsu-zumō (mawashi fighting), with enormous success. In fact, Mitakeumi appears to be quite talented in battles of strength sumo, and deploys it with great skill and cunning.
Since Aki in 2016, Mitakeumi has been performing at a level on par with most of the San’yaku, but due to a strange demotion scenario and some very solid Sekiwaki, he was unable to advance any higher than Komusubi. With Kotoshogiku’s unfortunate second demotion out of Natsu in May, Mitakeumi was finally able to attain a Sekiwake berth. It remains to be seen if he will continue to deliver outstanding sumo at his new rank, but I fully expect that he will be an Ozeki at some point in the next 2 years if he can stay healthy.