I’d like to start today with some maezumo. Nine wrestlers are participating in maezumo this basho. Of them, five are formerly ranked rikishi who are coming back from banzuke-gai status, which is where you get if you don’t show up to any match while ranked in Jonokuchi. The other four are new ones – three who passed the new recruit health checkup prior to this basho, and one who passed it in the previous basho, but had to wait for his visa to be approved.
This latter one is Takanoiwa’s nephew, Sukhbat, who graduated from the famous Saitama Sakae high school, and really should have belonged to the Hoshoryu/Naya generation. However, he was looking for a heya at the height of the Harumafuji scandal, in 2018, and the well-oiled Mongolian placement machine was not willing to work for him. That is, until Harumafuji and Takanoiwa reconciled. You can read all about him finding his way into the sumo world in our coverage of Takanoiwa’s danpatsu-shiki.
He now has a new shikona – Hokutenkai, “Heavenly Sea Of the North” – which is a variation on the name of a former Ozeki that he looked up to: Hokutenyu. It is a bit surprising that a young Mongolian rikishi would look up to an Ozeki who was active in the ’80s, but there you go.
After all this time, the man was starved for the dohyo. And you can see that very well in today’s maezumo bout.
Another interesting figure in maezumo is Hakuho’s latest recruit, Hasegawa. Half Japanese, half Mongolian, he grew up in Japan, but then moved to Ulaanbaatar, where he attended a Japanese school and played basketball.
This 16 years old, unlike Hakuho’s other recruits, doesn’t have much of a sumo experience. He did not belong to any sumo dojo as a kid, but he did participate in a major competition during his primary school days, where he drew the attention of one of Hakuho’s contacts, who tipped the Yokozuna. Tall, lanky, 16 year-old with a background more in basketball than in sumo. Hmm… whom does that remind you of?
That lack of experience did show in his maezumo bout.
The other two new faces in maezumo are Hisasue, who joins Kokonoe beya, and the gigantic Konno, who joins the fast-growing Naruto beya.
Here is a video showing first the preparations of all the participants, and then the bouts themselves, starting with Senho (left) vs. Bariki (right), then Hisasue (left) vs Konno (right), then finally, poor Urutora from Shikihide beya (left) vs. Hokutenkai (right):
Senho (meaning “A thousand pengs”, or “A thousand Phoenixes”) seems to have spent a little bit too much time around Ishiura. Yeah, I know, no sumo experience, shouldn’t expect much at this stage. Hokutenkai, on the other hand, is starved for sumo, full of self-confidence, and I wouldn’t want to be standing on the dohyo opposite him right now.
Resuming our regular programming, the sky almost fell today. Take a look at what happened in the Hattorizakura (right) vs. Yamamoto (left) bout:
A monoii. An actual monoii. And Hattorizakura seemed to be able to carry a bout of sumo against somebody twice his size. Wait, what was that shadow passing my window? Oh, a flying pig.
Continuing the adventure of the closely-shorn Roman from Tatsunami beya, here we have him vs. Kotokogyoku (let’s see you pronounce that three times in a row). Sadogatake man on the left, crew-cut Roman on the right:
Whoa. “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou”, I said, “art sure no craven”. At this rate Roman is a serious contender for the Jonidan yusho. I wonder how odd it will look to TV viewers if he does. BTW, Roman is not the only shorn rikishi in Tatsunami beya. There is another one, Yukiamami, who was also absent through Natsu, and is now back in Jonokuchi. Twitter is full of question marks about these two.
We continue to watch Amakaze on his trail back to fame and his beloved kesho-mawashi. Today he faces Baraki (left) who is one of Shikihide beya’s top ranking men, and famous for a stint in Shokkiri.
Amakaze nearly flattens the homunculus.
Next up is American-born Musashikuni (left) facing Kaizen from Asakayama beya (right).
Sorry it’s just a half-video. In any case, Kuni recovers from his initial loss, and is now 1:1.
A bit late, but I got Wakaichiro! So here he is. Kamitani from Michinoku beya attacks from the left, Wakaichiro from the right:
Frustrating misstep there for the young Texan. We hope he will bounce back. At least he is genki enough to lightly jump back up the dohyo. He is now 1:1.
We continue to follow Genki, the Former Turtle, here on the left, facing Kaito from Asakayama beya (right). They start this match with 1-0 each.
This time Genki is not as overwhelming as he was on day 1. He is now 1-1.
Aoi, who almost had an arm torn off by former kaiju Terunofuji yesterday, faced a slightly less fearful rival today – the Tokitsukaze Mongolian, Yoshoyama. Aoi on the left, Yoshoyama on the right:
Yoshoyama recovers from his first defeat for a 1-1, while Aoi probably curses his luck for having faced him with two consecutive Mongolians.
Recovering Hakuyozan (left) faces Nogami from Oguruma (right) for what should have been a relatively easy match for the more experienced recovering former sekitori.
However, it is Nogami who prevails, and you can see the frustration on Hakuyozan’s face, as he is now 1-1, and at Ms10, this one loss may well have blocked him from a quick return to his sekitori status.
Eldest Onami brother Wakatakamoto faced Terao from Shikoroyama beya today. Waka on the left, Terao The Third on the right:
This is one of those uncontrolled spirals of death kind of pushes, where the pusher cannot stop himself and just hopes he will fall after his rival is out. Terao doesn’t have the presence of mind to sidestep, and so Wakatakamoto is now 2-0.
Next, what is going on with our favorite Russian/Mongolian wolf, Roga? Can he recover from that initial blow? Here on the right, he faces Fujita, of Shikoroyama beya, on the left.
Yes, much better, Roga. Yorikiri. And that length of hair should put him in a chon-mage already.
Finally, we have our highlight bout, in which Hoshoryu gets to meet Seiro, a Mongolian with real sekitori experience and even a couple of visits to Makuuchi. Hoshoryu on the far side, Seiro with his backside to us:
Seiro doesn’t allow Hoshoryu to fully engage with him, using a technique similar to Ryuden’s to keep him away. Eventually Hoshoryu loses his footing, and looks pretty sour. It’s 1-1 to the famous nephew, and he can only afford one additional loss if he wants to be a sekitori by Aki.