When I first started watching sumo, I was fascinated by the Sumo broadcasters giving updates on ex-makuuchi wrestlers fighting in the lower divisions. Of course, I did not know who those wrestlers were, but obviously they had fans who wanted to know how they were doing now that they were no longer on live TV in the top divisions. As I followed sumo, some of my favorites dropped out of the salaried ranks and I had trouble getting updates on their records. Sumo content is much more available now, but it can sometimes still be difficult to get news on your former favorites. So, here is a bit of an update on a few ex-top division wrestlers:
He was in the top division for one tournament back in Nagoya 2016. A lighter-weight wrestler, he had previously spent six years in the lowest divisions before settling into Makushita. Another four years in makushita saw him first promoted to jūryō in Hatsu 2012. He bounced between jūryō and makushita until Aki 2014 and then settled into the second division. After his top division debut, he sank right back to makushita after two losing records in jūryō and then bounced between divisions for most of 2017. He fell back to makushita for what seemed like a final time after Aki 2017. However, he made an excellent comeback in early 2020 and got his silk mawashi back for the Aki 2020 tournament. He finished 5-10 and dropped back to makushita.
He fell to the lower third of makushita in 2022 for the first time since 2009 but came back with back-to-back kashikoshi, including a 6-1 performance in Nagoya 2022 to move back into the top 15 ranks. He fell to Sandanme in Aki 2023, his first appearance in that division since Hatsu 2008. He managed to go 7-0 from Sandanme 2 West, beating former University club member Naya (one of Ōhō’s brothers), and ex-high schoolers Nobehara, Awanokuni, and prospects Satorufuji and Gōnoumi! The sandanme championship was his first ever division title in his 21+ years of dōhyō experience. From this rank, he will be back in Makushita’s top 15, with a chance for a late career (he is currently 37 years old) resurgence. Current career record 549-541-7 (with the seven absences due to a missed makushita tournament: heya COVID suspension), so he is an ironman as well. He has a 6-9 career record in the top division and a 169-206 record in jūryō!
Some facts: His younger brother also joined Yamahibiki-beya, fighting as Tatsunoumi. Tatsunoumi made it as high as Sandanme 78, before retiring after September 2022.
Kitaharima is known for his intense training – he apparently has no hobbies, does not drink, etc. He misses his former shishō, Kitanoumi, who often inspired him by getting angry at him for his performance.
Yago, who fights under his own name, entered Oguruma-beya as an ex-university champion. He earned the special dispensation to enter as Makushita-15 Tsukedashi. He went 5-2 in his initial tournament, followed by a 7-0 yūshō at Makushita 11, earning him a promotion to Jūryō after only two tournaments (like Ōnosato). However, he was unsuccessful in his first stint as a sekitori, going 7-8 in back-to-back tournaments and finding himself back in makushita. He got an immediate repromotion to Jūryō and despite another makekoshi in his comeback bashō, rolled off four straight kachi-koshi and made his top division debut in Hatsu 2019. He spent four tournaments in the top division, with a career high rank of Maegashira 10.
After three straight makekoshi, he was back in Jūryō, where he had a rough end to 2019 and start to 2020 – going 4-11 in three straight tournaments and dropping back to Makushita. It is likely that his chronic knee problems got the best of him around this time. As he took advantage of the cancelled Natsu 2020 tournament to get surgery He spent three bashō there before obtaining his third promotion back to Jūryō for two bashō before dropping down again. He returned to Jūryō one tournament later and settled into the second division. In Hatsu 2022, ranked as Jūryō 14 he had a break-out tournament – 11-4 and a losing effort in a playoff for the Jūryō championship. However, after two 4-11 records, he dropped back to Makushita in Aki 2022 and has been there since. In fact, for the Aki 2023 bashō he was at his LOWEST career rank of Makushita 19. He had a 5-2 performance last time, meaning he will be back in the top 15 ranks and could get a return to the salaried ranks if he wins his second makushita yūshō.
Facts: He is now part of Oshiogawa-beya, following Takekaze there after the Oguruma Oyakata reached 65 and closed his stable. His connection to Takekaze is via Chūō University. He studied Law there, and was in the Amateur Yokozuna after winning the All Japan Sumo Tournament – which is what got him the Makushita 15 ranking.
Yago was born big, and by the time he finished elementary school he was 180 cm and 120kg. He injured both knees for the first time in Junior High, which limited his training at Saitama Sakae High School as he needed to rehabilitate. Yago’s favorite singer is B’z, his favorite food is chanko-nabe and Genghis Khan-nabe, and his hobby is watching baseball.