Freshman Wins Amateur Title

“I came to win. I came to win, and I won.”

Hanada Hidetora

The Japan Sumo Federation, not to be confused with the Japanese Sumo Association which governs professional sumo, hosted its 69th Annual All-Japan Sumo Championship. Hanada Hidetora took the yusho. Nitaidai has been a powerhouse, winning the yusho back in October. I think Hanada is the one holding the yusho pennant/banner in the picture in that article. But just to show how tight these competitions are, Yersin Baltagul did not make it to the final eight — and four of the eight were from Nitaidai, including Nakamura, who won last year’s university title. This elimination format is very different from the fortnight of fun we’re used to.

Young Hanada, no apparent relation to the infamous Hanada clan, hails from Wakayama Prefecture. In another coincidence, the last Freshman to win this sumo title was Kushima Keita (ex-Kushimaumi) who also came from Wakayama. However, Kushima was actually a repeat champion since he also won the title as a high school senior.

Above is the bracket for the final eight, elimination phase of the tournament. After beating Hadeyama from Toyo University, he faced off against his teammate, Matsuzono in the first bout below. Matsuzono had previously defeated Yersin Baltagul in the Sweet Sixteen. Hanada drove Matsuzono back to the bales, then pulled for the hikiotoshi win.

In the finals, the second clip from the embed below, Hanada beat Kinki University’s Yamaguchi. It seems like it was a mistake for Yamaguchi to try to go for the headlock. This meant Yamaguchi was too high and turned around, so Hanada drove straight through and pushed Yamaguchi off the dohyo.

I really encourage all sumo fans to try to learn some Japanese. Start off with the hiragana and katakana but definitely pick up some kanji as well. Give yourself a month to get that and you’ll find that a bit helpful when you’re watching sumo. For the next level, you’ll want to pick up vocabulary and some of the first kanji you’ll learn is 来る, to come, and 勝つ, to win. If you are diving into the grammar so you can try to really master it and read Japanese news articles, I found a part of the interview with Hanada very instructive on how to use ために.

The young man also contained his emotions when he won and did not celebrate. In Japan, they call such celebratory displays a “guts pose”. ガッツポーズ. I told you that katakana knowledge could be useful! He commented that Yokozuna and Ozeki do not do it, so he felt he should be able to contain his emotions, as well. Good job, and good luck next year!

*Note: For those who tried but quit trying to learn Japanese, I totally understand. Just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, you get a curve ball that makes you question what you’re doing with your life. You’re thinking, “Oh, that one’s easy. I recognize the name 山内. They just put a 小 in front of it, so it’s got to be Koyamauchi, right?”

Bahahahahaha! No, you fool! It’s Osanai!

8 thoughts on “Freshman Wins Amateur Title

  1. It’s worth mentioning that the University yokozuna, Delgerbayar, didn’t even pass the first round. It was a tough competition for the foreigners, with only one Mongolian (Dalaibaatar) making it to the Elite Eight. Also tough for the non-students, the “shakai-jin”. Again – only one made it through.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the participants in the final 8 are eligible for Sandanme tsukedashi, and the yusho winner – a Makushita tsukedashi. The eligibility holds for two years.

    Osanai, the sole shakai-jin, is too old to join Grand Sumo. The freshmen are unlikely to enter before they complete their education (Hanada said so explicitly), and so will miss the opportunity unless they repeat the achievement in their senior years. The most likely to take advantage immediately are Yamaguchi and Matsuzono, who are seniors, and Hadeyama will probably cash on it next year,

  2. I have been learning Japanese for a couple months and I never imagined it was possible to use so many words to say so little. I can’t imagine how wild things must get trying to get into a trade that requires very precise language like engineering or manufacturing.

    • Actually, I feel it’s pretty simple, grammar wise. All new vocabulary but after trying to learn Russian with its declensions and conjugations, it’s a piece of cake. I can say understandable sentences on Day 1.

      • What are you using to learn? I have been wanting to learn Japanese for a while just to be able to read more about sumo. Like you I also tried to learn Russian but the conjugations….blech

        • I took it in college so I still have some of those books, but also my kids have books that they’re learning from.


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