Tochinoshin Wins Hatsu 2018

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Tachiai congratulates Georgian born Levan Gorgadze better known in the sumo world as Tochinoshin. Tachiai writer Givemechanko wrote an excellent profile on him in October of 2017, and I encourage fans to take a look and learn more about the man who accomplished something quite rare: Winning the Emperor’s Cup from the rank and file Maegashira ranks. The last time this happened was 2012 when Kyokutenho, who is now Tomozuna stable master, claimed the Emperors cup during May 2012.

Tochinoshin entered Hatsu ranked at Maegashira 3 West, a member of the ultra-competitive upper joi-jin, comprised of sumo’s champions, grand champions, named ranks and top rank and file rikishi. He proceeded to defeat all challengers except Yokozuna Kakuryu in a stunning march to the championship. Tochinoshin’s primary weapon is an almost inhuman strength. He is known to lift 400+ pound men completely off their feet and carry them over the edge of the ring. Time and time again, he would endure whatever tsuppari or oshi attack an opponent might hurl at him off the line, pressing always to land his massive hands on their mawashi, and thereby beginning to out-muscle them.

Many fans are whispering that his outstanding performance portends his future at higher ranks, including wishful discussion of his starting a campaign to take up an Ozeki rank later this year. To those enthusiasts, I would ask them to temper their hopes with the knowledge that Tochinoshin is 30, which is on the older side for a rikishi. He is also only as good as the health of his damaged knee, which he keeps massively bandaged. His prior middling performances in previous tournaments can be largely attributed to his damaged knee, and the pain it must generate nearly every day. His recent tournament history includes him completely withdrawing from last year’s Hatsu basho on day 6, after failing to win a single match.

We wish Tochinoshin a glorious celebration, and a reunion with his family in Georgia soon, to celebrate the recent birth of his daughter and his monumental accomplishment of battling back from horrific injuries to claim the Emperor’s Cup.

15 thoughts on “Tochinoshin Wins Hatsu 2018

  1. Great stuff. And great for competitive sumo. It gives hope to all the other rank-and-filers that one day, they may be the ones to hoist the Emperor’s Cup.

  2. Ive been a fan for thru-out Tochinoshin’s career and to see him bounce back as he has done and take the Hatsu basho from his rank-&-file position was truly amazing and awesome!!

  3. If Kisenosato and Kakuryu can’t perform proper sumo, and Hakuho continues to miss bashos, then we’re going to have a run of basho won by San’yaku and Megashira rikishi. I think that’s going to be the biggest difference with Hakuho’s decline: the list of yusho winners is going to get longer.

  4. As you allude, the difference for him this basho was agility. Every time someone tried to move him laterally or get him off-balance, he was able to correct and bounce back immediately. He was even hopping a little! It gives some glimpse into what he could have been without the knee problems.

    I’m thrilled he pulled off the win, but I would be shocked if his knees will let him hold onto sekiwake for long. But who knows? Maybe he has a few good years of knee health ahead of him, in which case he could very well stay in san’yaku for a while.

  5. Just an observation about his personality – in the “old” set of portraits used by NHK, he smiled, and was the only one to do so (unless you count Kaisei’s look of goofy confusion as a smile). Good on him.

    • I noticed this too recently when I looked at some older 2008 trading cards featuring him. He looked so young and hopeful and genuinely happy to be there. So glad he endured to achieve this now. Truly the pinnacle of his career

    • It still irks me that the official sumo app doesn’t have full pictures of all the rikishi. I know the NSK are on a budget, but I’m sure they can afford a single photo mugshot day to improve their presentation to 21st century standards. Or even let the newbies submit their own selfies (which might be better lit and edited at this point).

      Oh, and grudging congrats to Tochinoshin. I appreciate you giving me more time to play Monster Hunter instead of paying attention to the yusho race. :P

  6. Really one of the best meets ever! And Tochinoshin is also one of the nicest, most dedicated and humble guys I’ve ever seen. I’m shocked actually, he really pulled out the max efforts this time, which really shocked me. I hope he gets better soon and I’d love see him go all the way to the top.

  7. Tochinoshin has been my favourite wrestler since I started watching sumo again in 2014 (I might just have mentioned that once or twice). Since his return from injury he has occasionally looked like the best wrestler below yokozuna, looking totally dominant against top guys, but his lack of consistency (certainly related to injury) has held him back.

    There was also the problem of predictably: he was a pure yotsu specialist whose opponents knew that if they could keep him away from the mawashi they were half way to beating him. What has impressed me this time is that he has really improved his oshi sumo. Granted,he does use it mainly as a route to a belt grip, but he has shown that he can he take on top-class push-and-shovers at their own game, making him a much more complete rikishi.

    I wonder if fatherhood has anything to do with it. I’ve worked with some young who were coasting along at their job, working just hard enough to stay out of trouble and blowing most of their dispoable incomes in clubs and casinos. Then a kid arrives and it’s time to shape up and get serious. Also, when your age starts with a 3 and you have a sports career, you start to hear the clock ticking.

  8. Legs like tree trunks, upper body of Schwarzenegger, nerves of steel and dynamite in the sack (well at least on one occasion!). On a serious note, I became a 1st time father to a son this week – my wife (sumo fan by proxy) and I were bawling buckets of tears in empathy when he won – as we appreciate where his emotions have been. Anyway. WELL DONE TOCHINOSHIN!!!

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