Sure, readers can correctly state that I do write about American sumotori Wakaichiro quite a bit. Is it silly for one of the few english language sources of sumo in the known universe to pay attention to someone who is in Jonidan?
Not at all!
Wakaichiro is personally working to solve a question that Andy and I have had for a bit. What happens if you take a large, strong young Amercian, who played a good amount of football, and stuff them into sumo life? Do they excel? Are the skills, size and speed translatable? Wakaichiro is a large fellow, and he certainly has speed and strength. He is part of an excellent, if young, stable (Mushashigawa). He trains hard, and has had a record of producing winning results.
Wakaichiro had managed to break out of Jonokuchi with his 5-2 winning record in Osaka, and finished his first Jonidan basho with a 4-3 kachi-koshi in May in Tokyo. This boosted his rank to Jonidan 26 for Nagoya.
In Nagoya, Wakaichiro showed solid improvement from Natsu, and was able to prevail against a variety of mostly veteran rikishi. He finished with 4-3, which is good enough to secure a move higher in the banzuke. From photos published via twitter (frequently by Inside Sport Japan), the coaches at the heya are working him well, and we hope to see additional steady improvement.
For Aki, Tachiai expects him to be ranked in the top 10 slots of Jonidan, or possibly even at the bottom of Sandanme, which would be quite a challenge for the young man from Texas. With the banzuke only a week away, his growing fant base eagerly awaits his next flight of bouts in September, and we join in wishing him good fortune and vigorous bouts.