Who’s That Rikishi #8: Takanoiwa Yoshimori

TakanoiwaAge: 27
Birth Name: Adiya Baasandorj
Home Town: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Stable: Takanohana
Highest Rank: Maegashira 2

Born in Ulaanbaatar in 1990, the future Takanoiwa Yoshimori was introduced to Japan’s national sport when the sumo coach from Johoku High School came looking for Mongolian talent to join his team. Having passed the selection test, he moved to Japan when he was sixteen and began honing his skills at Johoku. In 2008 he joined Takanohana beya to train under his childhood idol, former Yokozuna Takanohana. After a successful première at the 2009 Haru basho, Takanoiwa was promoted to Jonidan for the May tournament, where he recorded a perfect 7-0 record but lost the division yusho in a playoff. He won his first championship two basho later when he once again recorded a 7-0 record and took home the Kyushu Sandanme yusho. Takanoiwa’s championship performance earned him a promotion up the banzuke into the Makushita division in January, but he struggled to find success. Takanoiwa’s luck didn’t improve in early 2011, as he was forced to pull out part way through the Natsu basho and missed the entirety of the Nagoya basho due to injury. As a result, he found himself back in the Sandanme division upon his return. Unperturbed, Takanoiwa won six of his seven matches in September and was promoted back to Makushita. Another 6-1 record in Kyushu put him in contention for the Makushita yusho, but another playoff loss cost him the championship.

Takanoiwa made his Juryo debut in July of 2012, but subsequent back-to-back make-koshi nearly cost him his position in the division. He had a return to form for the 2013 Hatsu basho and took the Juryo yusho with an impressive twelve wins. The rest of the year saw Takanoiwa produce winning records in four out of the five remaining tournaments, and he broke into sumo’s top rank at the beginning of 2014. He returned to Juryo three tournaments later, after suffering a staggering thirteen losses at the May basho. The Mongolian rikishi would spend the next year and a half in and out of Makuuchi until cementing his place in the division in early 2016. Takanoiwa’s first top division success came at the 2016 Nagoya basho, where he finished second place behind Harumafuji and was awarded his first sansho special prize for fighting spirit. Following this incredible performance, he was promoted to Maegashira 3 for Aki, but struggled against the joi and fell back into the middle of Makuuchi by November. 2017 started with a bang for Takanoiwa, who collected eleven wins, including one kinboshi victory over Hakuho. Beating the Dai-Yokozuna had a tremendous impact on the Hatsu basho and the sumo world, as it cost Hakuho the Emperor’s Cup and lead to Kisenosato picking up the long-sought-after yusho he needed to become the first Japanese born Yokozuna since Takanoiwa’s own oyakata, Takanohana, retired in 2003. For his efforts, Takanoiwa was awarded his first outstanding performance award and his highest rank to date, Maegashira 2. Once again the joi proved to be too much for Takanoiwa, who fell back to the mid-Magashira where he remains to this day. When meeting his opponents on the Dohyo, Takanoiwa mainly employs yotsu-zumo to win his bouts. His preferred grip is a left hand outside right hand inside migi-yotsu. His most common kimarite is a yori-kiri force out, but he is known to employ an uwatenage overarm throw to win as well.

Takanoiwa (left) vs. Goeido (right), Aki basho, 2017.


10 thoughts on “Who’s That Rikishi #8: Takanoiwa Yoshimori

  1. I love this rikishi series, I wish it was available in coffee table book format with big photos of the big dudes! Alternatively, would it be possible to have a section of the blog with an index of these articles and photos we could click on to have for a future resource?

    • I added a page in the Features menu for these but it doesn’t have pictures. Right now it’s a table with links. It doesn’t have this new article indexed there yet.

  2. I wonder how much pressure is there on a stable’s single foreigner, if he doesn’t excel. I suppose mid-maegashira should be good enough for any oyakata, but I can imagine that in the time he was yoyoing between Makuuchi and Juryo, he might have gotten some dirty looks from his stablemaster.

    Of course there are foreigners doing worse (Gochozan is an example, but his heya has two other foreigners, including Arawashi). But I wonder how that works in the sumo world, where there are no trades or loans of athletes.

      • A wrestler can’t join another heya, unless his original heya is closed, as it was in Terunofuji’s case (originally from Magaki stable, Magaki oyakata had health issues, so the heya was merged into Isegahama).

        So basically dismissing a wrestler means throwing him out of professional sumo for good. I haven’t done much research into this, but I believe this is done very rarely, and only for serious offenses, such as in the case of Wakanoho, who was caught in possession of cannabis.

        • That seems odd to not let them have another chance, but since they don’t seem to kick them out for a bad Basho it seems acceptable

          • That’s sumo for you. It’s different than other sports. Basically you enter your heya as a boy, and leave it only with your oicho-mage in a bag. It works the same way in the world of Geisha. Your heya is considered your family.

    • Oh absolutely! There’s so much potential for success with a foreign rikishi, but you also run the risk of having that spot filled by an average to poor athlete who you could be stuck with for 10 or more years should he stay healthy. It’s definitely a gamble, and I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of either the rikishi or the oyakata should things not work out.

  3. Takanoiwa is strong. Like, strongth strong. I wish he had some more technique because he could be a real force out there. Once a basho you’ll see him pull off an uwatenage on nothing but pure arm strength, or at least try to against a much, much too large an opponent.

  4. He has one of my favorite kesho-mawashi. Such a nice dragon composition.

    I’d second having a Makuuchi index with all these writeups linked with pictures.


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