2020’s retired rikishi (2/2)

Here comes the second part of our series. More prestigious names are on the line…

Kizakiumi Shinnosuke

Kizakiumi Shinnosuke (middle of the picture)

Age of retirement: 25

Best rank: juryo 3

The Okinawa-ken rikishi’s unfortunate retirement caused Andy to rant at the malicious issue of injuries in sumo. Indeed, how would fans react, should Takakeisho, Asanoyama or Shodai suddenly retire due to a badly handled injury?

Here, the victim was a less prestigious rikishi – but the problem remained all the same: in a statement, Kizakiumi declared that chronic neck issues, following an injury, prompted his surprise retirement. Yet again, a promising career had been cut down. Kizakiumi started his career as sandanme tsukedashi, in March of 2018. Just two basho later, he earned a place in the upper makushita ranks. He found his way to juryo, after just one make koshi in eight tournaments! If Kizakiumi had a nightmare tournament as makuuchi was near (3-12 ranked juryo 3), he remained a solid juryo wrestler, and is already missed by sumo fans.

Toyonoshima Daiki

Toyonoshima Daiki

Age of retirement: 37

Best rank: sekiwake

Number of yusho (makuuchi): 0

Number of kinboshi: 4

The sumo world lost a great rikishi, and a lovely guy. Sadly for him, Toyonoshima could not satisfy one last wish before calling it a day – facing his friend Kotoshogiku on the dohyo. Giku held on down the maegashira ranks for some time; Toyonoshima could not stand first division’s requirements, despite final appearances in 2019.

Prior to that, Toyonoshima has been a formidable opponent, despite his height – just 170 cm. He went as high as sekiwake, caused headhaches to Harumafuji – he earned three kinboshi against him from 2013 to 2015, whereas his very first gold star came against Hakuho, as early as 2007!

Interestingly, he has been Hakuho’s most original opponent in a playoff – the yokozuna faced illustrious opponents, like Asashoryu, Harumafuji and Kakuryu. It occured in Kyushu 2010, where Toyonoshima seemed unstoppable – he defeated ozeki Baruto, Kaio, and then sekiwake Kakuryu in the process.

In 2020, Toyonoshima called it a day and put an end to an impressive eighteen year career.

Sokokurai Eikichi

Sokokurai Eikichi

Age of retirement: 36

Best rank: maegashira 2

Number of yusho (makuuchi): 0

Number of kinboshi: 1

Sokokurai has had quite a long career, that contained various periods. Having entered the sumo world in 2003, it took him more than six years to reach the salaried ranks – his first basho in juryo came in January 2010. And he left the top two divisions in… 2018! Actually, the Chinese wrestler was compelled to retire in 2011, then ranked maegashira 16, following the match fixing scandal. Sokokurai wanted to establish his innocence though, and indeed got the Sumo association quased before court – he then returned to the sumo world, at the honourable rank of maegashira 15, in July 2013.

Sokokurai’s career highlight arguably came in the same period as Arawashi – early in 2017. Following a remarkable 12-3 jun yusho in January, he was propelled to a career best maegashira 2, where he earned his sole kinboshi, following a win against yokozuna Harumafuji. However, Sokokurai could not maintain his fine form, and actually ended up in juryo just three basho later, following huge make koshi. Sokokurai came and went, mostly settled in juryo, where he expected to stay until he was due to take over at Arashio stable, as his master’s retirement was approaching. He got relegated to makushita early in 2020, and took the lead of the stable, as expected.

Without doubt, Arashio residents – most notably the Onami brothers (Wakatakakage, Wakamotoharu and Wakatakamoto) and Kotokuzan, will greatly benefit from their elder’s experience.

Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro

Former ozeki Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro

Age of retirement: 36

Best rank: ozeki

Number of yusho (makuuchi): 1

Number of kinboshi: 3

Really a big name who left the dohyo this year. What hasn’t already been said about him? Without doubt, the man-who-never-henkas offered sumo fans a fair share of emotions.

He actually got promoted to the rank of ozeki right before Kisenosato – Giku earned promotion following the Aki basho 2011, the future yokozuna following the Kyusho basho of the same year. His ozeki debut was pretty convincing – he finished 11-4, not as good as Hakuho’s first basho as an ozeki (a 14-1 yusho), but equally good as Terunofuji’s ozeki debut.

Of course, Kotoshogiku was eventually known as one of the “kadoban brothers” – see who the other one was, in the first part of this series… He found himself in danger of demotion no less than seven times, before losing his rank for good in 2017.

But prior to that, the ozeki offered us remarkable, unexpected Kotoshogiku madness. His trademark gaburi attacks were simply lethal during the January 2016 – he defeated all three yokozuna in succession (Kakuryu, Hakuho, Harumafuji), and lifted the Emperor’s cup with a 14-1 performance. Ironically, he suffered his only defeat to his long time friend, Toyonoshima! In the process, he broke the duck, being the first Japanese born rikishi to win a yusho since Tochiazuma, ten years before.

Suddenly, the Fukuoka-born wrestler found himself as a yokozuna candidate. However, he could not keep on gaburi-ing, finished the following basho with a meagre 8-7 record. And, sadly, his ozeki title had gone one year after.

Believe it or not, but all three kinboshi he earned came dring his later career! Kakuryu, Kisenosato and Hakuho all succumbed to the veteran’s forward sumo.

All in all, Kotoshogiku kept wrestling for more than three years down the maegashira ranks. Overall, he reminds me of former ozeki Kirishima – the same first name, a slow rise, an eventual ozeki promotion and one sole yusho, a post-ozeki career down the maegashira ranks, and retirement following juryo demotion.

Well, contrary to Kirishima, Kotoshogiku kept trying until the end…

Gagamaru Masaru

Gagamaru Masaru

Age of retirement: 33

Best rank: komusubi

Number of yusho (makuuchi): 0

Number of kinboshi: 1

Gagamaru’s retirement this year was unfortunately quite expected. As a matter of fact, the big Georgian did not win a single bout this year, fought just twice, and gave a fusen win. As a result, he ended up sitting in jonidan.

Gagamaru was an adorable character, with a sad background story – he said he was willing to wrestle and earn money, in order to follow his ill mother to get treatment. Unfortunately, his mother passed away as Gagamaru was still wrestling.

His massive body – he weighed more than 200 kg at some point – always posed a threat to his opponents. He got his sole kinboshi in 2015, against yokozuna Harumafuji. His last makuuchi appearance came in July 2017.

During his late career, one could witness likes of Ishiura, Chiyoshoma and others performing countless henka on the big Georgian. Still, kimarite records suggest he has not been henka’d THAT much – only 37 losses by hatakikomi are recorded.

But when Gagamaru was allowed to set up his strong yotsu zumo style, there was serious risk for his opponents to get bulldozed out of the dohyo. Irodori was the last opponent to suffer defeat to the former komusubi.

2 thoughts on “2020’s retired rikishi (2/2)

  1. Thanks for the retirement articles. It breaks my heart to see Kotoshogiku go, but I’m so thankful for all the great sumo he brought us over the years.

  2. it’s always sad when a rikishi retires for whatever reason as they’ve given us so much joy over the years, and whilst saddened we’re always thankful. that said, the retirement that’s caused me the most grief is Kizakiumi – his neck injury was horrific – i’ll never ever forget it – couldnt believe he came back to the dohyo so soon after the injury. now i can only hope that he’s getting the proper treatment and that it will actually do him so good after so long. now the best we can hope for him is for a relatively pain free life with no further risk of neck injury that could seriously debilitate him. every time is see Churanoumi i can’t help but think of Kizakiumi and hope he’s doing well

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