It’s Tokushoryu’s birthday, but…

… how good do we know him ?

I’ve recently talked to a French sumo fan about Tokushoryu; and it was soon clear neither him nor I knew too much about the Nara-ken born rikishi.

He’s turning 34 years old today, and, first of all, I’d like to wish him a happy birthday!

He recently made himself famous with a stunning yusho win in January 2020, while holding the unwanted rank of “makuuchi’s ass” – the first division’s lowest rank.

The last man to clinch the title while ranked maegashira 17 was fighting before the modern era – it was Dewaminato, during the Haru basho of 1939, and he was not sitting at the bottom of makuuchi: the banzuke went as far as maegashira 18 West.

Seeing Tokushoryu competing in makuuchi at the beginning of 2020 was nothing short of miraculous by itself. Indeed, for those who remember his juryo scramble in November of the previous year, the future yusho winner was 4-7, after eleven days, and managed to win his four last bouts to get a much desired kachi koshi! Even so, Tokushoryu, who sat at juryo 1W, benefitted from Tomokaze’s unfortunate slide to get the final makuuchi spot – makuuchi’s ass.

Once back in makuuchi, Tokushoryu lost on day 2, in January 2020. It proved to be his only defeat during that tournament. Nothing, really, predicted such an incredible fairytale.

By the way, who was the winner of that seemingly unimportant bout, on day 2?

It was…

Kaisei!

If Tokushoryu has been known of late to yo-yo between makuuchi and juryo, it has only been so since the beginning of his late career.

Can you remember his first makuuchi appearance?

Tokushoryu appeared in makuuchi as early as in July 2013. He continuously fought in the top division until September 2016, with the exception of a single juryo stint (September 2014). He went as high as maegashira 4 (in May 2015), but achieved double digit wins just once (11-4 in January 2015).

After that, Tokushoryu’s results began to falter, and got relegated to juryo thrice.

He managed to stunned everybody at the beginning of the year, though, and enjoys a remarkable late career. We can all wish him to surpass his current career best (maegashira 2), and to get his second kinboshi!

14 thoughts on “It’s Tokushoryu’s birthday, but…

  1. Thanks for the write up, I was wishing I knew more about Tokushoryu, too.

    What really stunned me about the Jan 2020 tournament wasn’t just that Tokushoryu won it, but that John Gunning straight-up predicted he would on Grand Sumo Preview. I remember thinking, “Well, everybody likes a long shot sometimes.” And then Tokushoryu pulled it off! It was awesome.

  2. Last year a friend sent me a collection of sumo memorabilia found discarded in Seattle. The box included ticket stubs and a program from Tokyo
    .
    The attendee had taken notes in the program. Next to Tokushoryu was written “bulbous”.

    Happy Birthday Bulbous One!

  3. Some more fun facts about Tokushoryu:

    He debuted in January 2009, together with Takarafuji, both graduating from Kinki university (nowadays branded Kindai for us dirty-minded westerners):

    His nickname is “Mako-chan” or “Mako-zeki” (His given name is Makoto).

    He has been married since 2017.

    Before Kinki U, he graduated from Meitoku Gijuku high school – other famous graduates are Tochiozan (now Kiyomigata oyakata), Kotoshogiku, and of course, Asashoryu. The “Toku” in “Tokushoryu” (德勝龍) is from “Meitoku” (明徳), but he uses a rare variant that has an extra stroke. In fact, his shikona has 43 strokes, one of the highest number. He says at first he used to sign autographs with the proper strokes, and being asked for one on his way home from the Kokugikan was a great delay. So he started signing in cursive script. His oyakata complained that his autographs are illegible, but he just thought “well, all autographs are, right?”.

    (Typical Tokushoryu sense of humor).

    He is good friends with Kisenosato (Araiso oyakata). When Kisenosato retired, he gave Tokushoryu his suteteko. A suteteko is the undergarments worn under kimono/yukata.

    BTW, the last person before him who won the Makuuchi saiko-yusho as a “Makuuchi ass” was Takatoriki in Haru 2000. That was from M14. Makuuchi included 40 wrestlers at the time, rather than 42 nowadays, so it’s equivalent to winning it from M16 on the current banzuke.

  4. TOKUSHORYU – JANUARY 2020 CHAMPIONSHIP: 14-1; HAKUHO – MARCH 2020: 13-2; TERUNOFUJI –
    JULY 2020: 13-2.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY INDEED TOKUSHORYU!

    As Always, Thank you Herouth for all of your amazing information/knowledge/sense of humor!!!

  5. unwanted rank of “makuuchi’s ass”………..

    Jesus Christ, I despair with this ex-good sumo site……….

    • That’s an actual sumo term – makujiri, where “maku” comes from “makuuchi”, and “jiri” is “shiri” – “butt”, “ass”. The Japanese are less buttock-shy than us westerners (hence their national sport is played with aforesaid body part unclothed). They have a children’s game called “shiritori” – “ass grabbing”, which actually refers to a chain of words, each starting with the end of the previous, hence “grabbing its ass”. Quite a different image than a westerner would have imagined given the game’s name. In English-speaking culture, we would rather use “tail” in the contexts where they use “ass”, but that’s culture for you.

      • I was already quite taken with “makuuchi’s ass,” and then Herouth comes in with the supporting facts. I love this site so much sometimes.

        • My son’s reading Greek Mythology right now (required reading for school) cracking up whenever they mention asses and Uranus. I explained that asses are donkeys but he doesn’t seem to care. At the same time, he does’t crack up so much when, in Japanese, there are terms with -shiri or -jiri.

          • Fortunately in British English we have the word “arse”, so we are less likely to confuse our bottoms with donkeys. The sumo name most likely to provoke giggles is of course that jonidan stalwart Imafuku.

            The British sense of humour: lowering the tone since 1387.

            • That’s so funny that you mention Imafuku, I always look out for him in the lower divisions. A fanbase in the UK he has no idea exists!!

              • Somehow I think a baseball game that I had on Gameboy 30 years ago had a player with that name…or maybe just Fuku…but I think it was Imafuku…and I loved that game!

  6. A while ago I read about a survey (maybe here at Tachiai, I think posted by Herouth? – I really don’t remember): Japanese fans were asked who’s their favourite rikishi and why. Several rikishi were mentioned, I remember for example someone said “….because he is friendly to the fans” (but forgot who he meant)… But for sure I remember someone mentioned Tokushoryu: “..because he looks exactly like you would imagine a wrestler to be” (or so). That really impressed me and when I was in Tokyo in May 2019 and I saw him arriving at the Kokugikan, I thought “yes, the guy who said this was right”… Too bad I can’t find this article anymore – maybe some of you remember?

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