New stars rising on the sumo horizon!

While having the privilege to witness the East Japan University sumo championships, it’s tempting to try to guess tomorrow’s stars. Doubtlessly, some of them have a bright future before them.

I’m grabbing the opportunity to set my eyes elsewhere, mainly in the upper makushita ranks. Which sekitori hopefuls are on their way to juryo, if not higher ? Who are our best hopes ? Who can match Shodai’s achievement ?

Let’s try to figure this out.

1. Shiraishi Masahito

Shiraishi is the first name that springs to my mind. Alongside Azumaryu and Fujiazuma, his situation has been highlighted last month, as the whole Tamanoi beya was prevented from competing at the Aki basho, due to Covid concerns. The question was, of course, if being kyujo the whole fifteen days would result in a huge demotion. Luckily for them, it was decided the rikishi would just keep their current rankings.

That means Shiraishi will have another shot to enter the sekitori ranks, currently holding the fourth highest makushita rank (makushita 2 West). He entered sumo being sandamne tsukedashi 100, won 7-0 outright, then went 5-2, 4-3, 6-1, 2-5 (his only make koshi), 6-1 and 6-1!

Shiraishi (right) being brought down by Terunofuji in July 2019

Prior to that forced break, the Tokyo-to born wrestler’s rise seemed inevitable. Aged 24, he’s doubtlessly one guy to follow.

2. Suzuki Yuto

The second wrestler I’d think of would undoubtedly Suzuki. He’s from quite a small heya, Fujishima, where’s he’s actually the second highest ranked sumo wrestler, after Bushozan (who I also could have included in that list, by the way!). He’s a nice baby – 181 cm for 145 kgs at his beginning.

Suzuki enterd mae zumo recently, in January 2019, and was ranked jonokuchi 20 in March. For the record – and the comparison is interesting, Terunofuji started his renaissance the same basho, ranked jonidan 48. Suzuki seemed to follow the Mongolian’s path, not conceding a single make koshi along the way (4-3, 5-2, 6-1, 6-1, 4-3, 4-3, 4-3, 6-1, 5-2)! Terunofuji’s last basho – so far – outside the salaried ranks took place in November 2019, then ranked makushita 10. At that time, Suzuki was sitting in the banzuke ranked sandanme 10.  

Aged only 20, he’ll find himself in the upper makushita ranks, and I’m eager to see him show his fledging skills.

3. Kitanowaka Daisuke

I could replicate much of what I said concerning Suzuki – in a slightly improved way, in fact. As heavy as Suzuki, but eight centimeters lighter at his start, he, too, has not conceded a single make koshi. His meteoric rise started two months later – maezumo in March 2019, jonokuchi 16 in May. He conceded just fifteen  losses overall, and will already compete in the upper makushita ranks in November, after a 4-3 winning record in Aki.

Kitanowaka Daisuke

He belonjgs to Hakkaku beya, alongside Okinoumi and Hokutofuji. Without doubt, he’ll benefit from both sekitori’s experience, in order to break through sumo’s highest ranks.

4. Yoshii Ko

Just a bit further down the banzuke, is sitting Yoshii. He belongs to the Tokitsukaze stable, which has recently been on the spotlights – the Shodai – Yutakayama also belongs to that stable.

By the way, it seems I’m not the first one to dedicate some of my time to him – credit to Chris Sumo for that video :

His measurements reminds me a bit of Takakeisho – 177 cm for 150 kg at his beginning.

His overall record is also spotless – no make koshi. He finished the Aki basho with a 4-3 record, ranked makushita 44. What’s more impressive, he’s only 17 !

His elders may be one step forward, but it’s fair to say he’s undoubtedly one of tomorrow’s talents. Good luck, Yoshii !

5. Murata Ryo

Murata sadly allows me to open a consequent chapters on young hopes being hit by injuries. Indeed, wounds are inherent to sumo, and can stop any rikishi’s career at any time. Thinking of Terunofuji, Ura and others is straightforward, but many brillant young guys are easily forgotten, without having been able to show their skills at the highest level. These sad circumstances prevent me from mentionning the likes of Ryuko (currently makushita 20) and many others, as having more successful futures – but who knows.

Going back to Murata, the path he followed is kinda impressing. Propelled to sumo as sandanme tsukedashi 100, he quickly rose to the very first makushita rank, before sustaining grave injuries. As a consequence, he fell right to jonokuchi – after one failed comeback – a division he never met !

That was too little to scare the Mie-ken born wrestler, though : a little bit more than a year later, he’s back to the upper makushita ranks (Ms 16 during the Aki basho), thanks to 7-0, 7-0 (that helps), 5-2, 6-1, 4-3 and 4-3 records.

He’s 26, but obviously still has a lot to offer.

Of course, my list isn’t exhaustive, and we might well see another breakthrough during the coming months.

I’m also keeping an eye on Kamito Daiki, who recently celebrated his 25th birthday.

Finally, I’d mention…

6. Onosho Fumiya

Wait, Onosho ? THE Onosho ?

Absolutely !

Emulating Shodai’s remarkable rise? Onosho Fumiya

As a complement on my last article about Shodai’s ozeki promotion, I’d like to add a few lines about Onosho. I feel these lines were missing.

Indeed, Shodai and Onosho’s careers have followed quite a similar path – until now. Just like the newly promoted ozeki, Onosho quickly through the ranks from jonokuchi. True, he spent some time in juryo, with one downstep to the non salaried ranks. But it took just three basho from his makuuchi debut, in May 2017, to attain san’yaku! Quite impressively, he performed three double digits records (10-5 thrice), before being propelled to komusubi.

As a matter of fact, Onosho never endured a make koshi over fifteen days, in san’yaku. Here’s the sad part : he seemed to suffer from a serious injury sustained in January 2018, which eventually provoked demotion from makuuchi to juryo. If Onosho bounced back without much trouble, thanks to a 12-3 juryo yusho, he has stayed quite anonymously in the maegashira ranks since, just like Shodai did.

If the Tokitsukaze resident suddenly saw his sumo quality improve dramatically, we can only wish similar fortunes to Onosho.

Hakkeyoi !

8 thoughts on “New stars rising on the sumo horizon!

  1. Thanks for this article. Kitanowaka is a new one for me but his record is impressive. I wonder if we can read anything into the fact that he was given a proper shikona from the start? I think that Hokutofuji, from the same stable, wrestled as “Daiki” until he was promoted to maku’uchi.

    • I think not. There was a rikishi using the surname “Saito” at the time Kitanowaka joined.

      What is interesting, actually, is that they didn’t use “Hokuto” like most in that heya.

      Also, Hokutofuji got it very quickly. Most of the wrestlers in that heya don’t get a shikona in less than 2 years.

      • That Saito (there have been a few of them) changed his shikona to Dainichido after Aki 2018 whereas our boy did not appear in maezumo until the following March.

        I know that a wrestler can’t take the name of existing one, but I’m not sure how a situation like this works works. Presumably Dainichido still had a claim on the name and could revert to it if he wanted to.

        Kitanowaka could have used his given name of Daisuke. That’s unusual but not unheard of, see Meisei and the aforementioned Daiki (Hokutofuji).

        • I think they are avoiding shikona that end in “suke” to avoid confusion with gyoji or something. Anyway, Meisei chose his own name, I think. Tatsunami beya is pretty easy on the naming scheme.

          But anyway, I think there is a connection of some sort between Kitanofuji and Kitanowaka. Apparently he used to frequent a shop managed by a relative of Kitanofuji when he was a kid. So maybe the chance of confusion with Dainichido, combined with good connections, gave him this rather unique surname. One thing is certain, though – he was no surprise to the Japanese fans. He was a high school Yokozuna two years before he joined, and got a lot of exposure right from his maezumo.

          • Well discovered! I was thinking that there might be a link to Kitanofuji or Kitanoumi. The only thing I could see was K-fuji was head of Kokonoe during Hokutoumi’s wrestling career.

            • In fact, he is very tight with Hakkaku. I actually think he lives in the heya, or in the same building, as he did mention having dinners with the Hakkaku rikishi during times when they were strictly forbidden from meeting outsiders. He is a regular in all their senshuraku parties, and refers to Hokutofuji and Okinoumi etc. his “grand-deshi”. It’s curious that his connection to Kokonoe is less tight, despite the current Kokonoe also being his “grand-deshi”.

              • After Kitanofuji handed the Kononoe-beya over to Chiyonofuji he moved over to join Hakkaku. And when he had his Kanreki dohyo-iri in 2002 Hakkaku was his dew-sweeper. I suspect they are as tight as a gnat’s chuff, which brings us back, sort of, to my original point: if Hakkaku named this kid after his old mentor/ buddy he must think pretty damn highly of him.


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