Who’s That Rikishi #4: Chiyomaru Kazuki


Chiyomaru

Age: 26
Birth Name: Kazuki Kinoshita
Home Town: Shibushi, Japan
Stable: Kokonoe
Highest Rank: Maegashira 11

With his rotund physique and jolly personality, one would be hard-pressed to miss Chiyomaru Kazuki. Born in Shibushi city in 1991, Chiyomaru practiced judo throughout much of his youth before entering Kokonoe beya after high school. His younger brother Chiyootori Yuki would join him a year later, and together the two would train under former Yokozuna Chiyonofuji. In 2007 Chiyomaru made his professional debut and would make steady progress through sumo’s lower ranks over the next few years. Tragedy would strike his family in 2011 when a fire burned down his parents’ home. Chiyomaru and his brother, now an active rikishi as well, decided to turn their tragedy into motivation and vowed to become more successful to help their parents rebuild their home.

It appeared that Chiyomaru’s younger brother was more serious about their vow, and in 2012 Chiyootori overtook his elder sibling and reached the salaried rank of Juryo. In an attempt to motivate him to train harder, Chiyonofuji assigned Chiyomaru to be a tsukebito for his brother. This assignment had the desired effect on Chiyomaru, who felt shame in being his little brother’s personal attendant. From this point on he applied himself full-heartedly to his training and eventually joined Chiyootori in Juryo at the 2013 Aki basho. In January of the following year, Chiyomaru would win his first division championship, taking the Juryo yusho with a 13-2 record. This victory would ensure his promotion to the Makuuchi division for the following tournament, where Chiyomaru would join Chiyotoori and mark the tenth time in history two brothers had competed in the top division simultaneously. Another strong performance would see him promoted to Maegashira 11 for the 2014 Natsu basho, his highest rank to date. Chiyomaru would remain in the lower Makuuchi for the next year until a disastrous 3-12 record in May of 2015 saw him relegated back to Juryo. Unable to put together a streak of winning records good enough to warrant a return to the top division, he remained in Juryo for another two years. In July of 2017, Chiyomaru was able to re-establish himself as a top rank rikishi, and he has remained in Makuuchi ever since. Chiyomaru mainly uses oshi-zumo on the dohyo, winning nearly 60% of his matches with either an oshidashi pushout or a yorikiri forceout. Chiyomaru has developed a large following of female fans who find him incredibly kawaii, and who affectionately nicknamed him 22, referencing his body fat percentage.



Links:
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=7240
http://www.sumo.or.jp/EnSumoDataRikishi/profile?id=3040
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiyomaru_Kazuki

Legends of the Dohyo #3: The Peerless One


Raiden2

Throughout sumo’s long and storied history, there have emerged several men whose exceptional skill on the dohyo has led them to be considered the greatest of all time. Taiho, Chiyonofuji, Takanohana II, Asashoryu, Hakuho. These are all sekitori whose status as the best of the best has been hotly debated even to this day. Yet there is one man from sumo’s distant past who may overshadow them all. A rikishi whose sheer dominance elevated him to the status of legend. The mighty thunderbolt, Raiden Tameemon.

Like many legends, this story has humble beginnings. Born Seki Tarokichi in 1767, the man who would one day be known as Raiden Tameemon grew up in a small village in Shinano province. Even in his youth, Tarokichi’s strength was already considerable, and his father enrolled him in sumo classes in a nearby village when he was fourteen years old. During a 1784 jungyo tour of Shinano, the young Tarokichi impressed the visiting stablemaster of Urakaze beya with both his strength and extraordinary height. Standing over six feet tall he was considered a giant compared to his fellow countrymen. Tarokichi was invited to train at Urakaze stable in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) where he honed his sumo techniques. His time at Urakaze would be short-lived, and he would soon begin training at Isenoumi beya under Tanikaze Kajinosuke, sumo’s fourth Yokozuna and the first to hold the position while still living.

In 1790, Tarokichi would make his professional debut at the winter tournament under his new shikona of Raiden, which roughly translates to “thunderbolt”. He would finish his first basho with the best record of all rikishi who had participated, including his teacher Tanikaze and the fifth Yokozuna Onogawa Kisaburo. In 1795 Raiden would attain the rank of Ozeki, a position he would hold for seventeen years. Of the thirty-five tournaments he would enter, Raiden would emerge victorious on twenty-eight occasions*. Of these victories, seven were won without a single loss**, giving the Thunderbolt a record winning percentage of 96%. His supremacy on the dohyo became so renowned that the Sumo Association began limiting the techniques he could use in an attempt to keep his matches more exciting and less one-sided.

Despite dominating sumo for two decades, Raiden would never attain the prestigious rank of Yokozuna, retiring as an Ozeki at the age of 44. There have been many theories as to why he was never awarded the title, the most likely of which involving his strained relationship with the Yoshida clan. At the time, only the Yoshida clan held the authority to issue official Yokozuna licenses. It has been hypothesized that Raiden was denied a license due to his ties to the Tokugawa Shogun, whose regime was deeply opposed by Yoshida. Despite never being granted the rank of Yokozuna, In 1900 his name was inscribed on the Yokozuna Stone at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine, with the only title befitting his tremendous impact on sumo: “Peerless Rikishi” Raiden Tameemon.

* These are not considered official victories as the current yusho system did not come into effect until 1909.
**Although Raiden did not suffer any defeats during these tournaments, several of his matches ended in draws where the winner could not be decided definitively.

Links
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=3143
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raiden_Tameemon
Sumo Matchup Centuries in the Making

Jungyo Newsreel – October 17th


🌐 Location: Takayama

takanohana-meisei
Takanohana still in professor mode, this time with Meisei

Today the Jungyo arrived at Takayama after a day’s hiatus the rikishi spent quietly in Nagoya. So quietly, that there was nothing in the news yesterday, and barely anything today…

Musubi of the day

So far there seemed to be a gentlemen’s agreement between the Yokozuna. Kakuryu and Kisenosato, while they were at it, basically split the spoils between them. But with Hakuho back, the excited Kisenosato informed the press that he is going to take the bouts seriously now until the end of the tournament.

I kind of raised an eyebrow, and wondered whether Hakuho will decide, in return, to just wipe Kisenosato off the Dohyo, or still let him have 50/50. But after Hakuho’s win on the 14th, Kisenosato actually won the next two bouts. BTW, if you have missed it, I edited in the musubi for the 15th.

While that one could be interpreted as Hakuho letting Kisenosato have one on the house, today’s musubi was quite a protracted affair:

So it seems that Kisenosato really is taking this seriously. But what’s up with Hakuho?

Earlier in the day he was practicing his Tachiai. Take a look at this. Is he favoring a leg?

In the penultimate bout, Kakuryu beat Goeido again.

Here is a video from Nagoya TV, with a summary of the day, including some wanpaku keiko (practice with kids), some Shokkiri, and a bit of the musubi from a different angle:

This just in: Goeido vows to clear his honor in Kyushu

“If I forget what happened, it will all come to nothing. I have to use the painful feeling as a springboard for a comeback”, said the Ozeki who let the yusho slip between his fingers in the Aki basho.

goeido-yago-butsukari

Today he took up his high-school kohai (lower class student) Yago for a round of butsukari-geiko. “He uses only his upper body, so I told him to use his knees”, said the Ozeki.

(From Sponichi)

More things you only see in the Jungyo

And today, let’s discuss workouts. Specifically, strength training. Back home, the rikishi have access to proper gyms with all kinds of weight machines. But when you go on the road, you can’t take a gym with you. So we get to see a lot of rubber tubes, rubber bands and hand weights.

And then, of course, there is the water bag:

water-bag
C’mon, Takekaze, you can do better than that. Fill ‘er up!

But what if you want to pump something that weighs more than 20kg? Something more in the area of 100kg and above? Turns out that there are plenty of weights to lift around the shitaku-beya:

kotoshogiku-weightlifting

Yep, that’s Kotoshogiku doing squats shouldering 113kg Kotodairyu.

It’s better that my speculations as to how he practices his hip-pumps remain unwritten.

Kyushu schedule published

This is not really Jungyo-related, but there’s a shortage of sumo news… so…

October 29th Rikishi arrive in Fukuoka
October 30th Banzuke announcement
October 31st Rikishi convention
November 1st Medical exams of new rikishi
November 2nd Yokozuna dohyo-iri at Sumiyoshi shrine
November 10th Torikumi meeting
November 11th Dedication of the dohyo
November 12th Shonichi (Tournament Day 1)
November 26th Senshuraku (Tournament Day 15)
November 29th Banzuke meeting for Hatsu

 

Who’s That Rikishi #3: Kagayaki Taishi


KagayakiAge: 23
Birth Name: Tatsu Ryoya
Home Town: Kanazawa, Japan
Stable: Takadagawa
Highest Rank: Maegashira 4

Tatsu Ryoya, the future Kagayaki, was born in the city of Kanazawa in 1994. Despite being average size at birth Tatsu grew quickly, and by the time he reached Kindergarten he was already much larger than other children his age. His passion for sumo began early, and he started practicing the sport in the first grade. At the age of thirteen Tatsu already stood six feet tall, and weighed over 200 pounds. Two years later, having won the National Junior High School Sumo Championship, he would end his formal education and take up sumo full time. Joining Takagawa beya, Tatsu revealed during his maezumo that his idol was Yokozuna Hakuho. He also told the press that he hoped to be a Yokozuna in six or seven years. Tatsu moved quickly through the lower divisions and was promoted to sumo’s third highest rank, Makushita, after only seven tournaments. At the 2012 Hatsu basho, he would lose the Makushita yusho in an eight-man playoff. He would continue to find success in the division and received a promotion to Juryo at the 2014 November tournament. It was during this basho that he would announce his new shikona, formally taking the name Kagayaki Taishi. He chose to name himself Kagayaki after the shinkansen train of the same name, which connects his hometown of Kanazawa to Tokyo.

After seven basho in Juryo, Kagayaki would make his Makuuchi debut in 2016 alongside fellow Makuuchi rookie Shodai Naoya. While Shodai would go on to a tremendous 10-5 record, a poor performance at the Hatsu basho would see Kagayaki back in Juryo the following tournament. He would make his return to the top division two tournaments later. Kagayaki would reach his highest rank of Maegashira 4 after a 9-6 record at the 2017 Natsu basho. The following tournament would mark the first time Kagayaki had ever taken on Ozeki and Yokozuna level rikishi, including his childhood idol Hakuho. As a result of this stiff competition, Kagayaki would only manage five wins in Nagoya. A similarly disastrous performance in September of 2017 would see him back in the lower Maegashira for the next basho. A pusher-thruster rikishi, Kagayaki primarily uses oshidashi push out and yorikiri force out techniques to win his matches.



Links
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=11845
http://www.sumo.or.jp/EnSumoDataRikishi/profile?id=3255
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kagayaki_Taishi

Legends of the Dohyo #2: Paving the Way


Takamiyama3

 

When one looks at the current banzuke, they are sure to find rikishi from all over the world. There are the Mongolians such as Hakuho and Terunofuji, Egypt’s Osunaarashi, the Bulgarian Aoiyama, and Wakaichiro from the United States. Foreign rikishi have become commonplace in Japan’s national sport, but for the vast majority of its existence, sumo was exclusively for those of Japanese heritage. That is, until Takamiyama Daigoro blazed a trial that countless rikishi around the globe have followed to this very day.

Takamiyama Daigoro, birth name Jesse Kuhaulua, was born on the Hawaiian Island of Maui in 1944. Even in his youth, he was known for his enormous size, standing over 6 feet tall and weighing nearly 300 pounds. Despite his impressive stature, he suffered from weak legs and hips as a teenager. He was encouraged by his high school football coach to join a local sumo club to strengthen his lower body. Takamiyama soon caught the attention of several professional rikishi visiting Hawaii from Japan, and in 1964 he accepted an invitation to join Takasago beya. At the 1968 Haru basho, Takamiyama became the first foreign-born rikishi to be promoted to the Makuuchi division. He would go on to have a long and successful career in sumo’s top division, spanning 17 years and a record 97 consecutive tournaments. This record for most consecutive basho as a sekitori would stand for twenty-five years until it was surpassed by Ozeki Kaio Hiroyuki in 2009. Although not the most technically proficient rikishi, Takamiyama’s size and strength made up for what he lacked in skill. He regularly used his power to push his way to victory, and on many occasions would merely lift his opponents up and out of the dohyo.

In addition to his success on the dohyo, Takamiyama became a celebrity throughout Japan. His massive size, bushy sideburns, and jovial personality made him incredibly popular with fans, and he regularly appeared in advertisements until it was banned by the Sumo Association. The crowning achievement of his career came at the 1972 Nagoya basho when Takamiyama became the first foreign-born rikishi to win a yusho. To congratulate him on his victory, President Richard Nixon sent a letter that was read aloud after the presentation of The Emperor’s Cup. This would mark the first time English was ever spoken on the dohyo. In addition to his yusho, Takamiyama was awarded 11 sansho special prizes and earned 12 kinboshi victories throughout his career.

In 1982, Takamiyama was given a heroes welcome when he returned to Hawaii. During this trip, he met a young Saleva’a Atisano’e, later known as Konishiki Yasokichi. This meeting would inspire the future first non-Japanese Ozeki to begin his sumo career. In 1984, at the age of 39, a debilitating elbow injury forced Takamiyama to end his career. Having become a Japanese citizen, he joined the Sumo Association and started his own stable, Azumazeki beya, the first foreigner to do so. His most promising student, Chadwick Rowan, would go on to become Akebono Taro, sumo’s first foreign-born Yokozuna. With his fighting days now behind him, Takamiyama would pass the torch to his fellow Hawaiians, Konishiki and Akebono, both trailblazers in their own right. They would, in turn, pass the torch to a generation of rikishi from across the globe, each of whom owes a debt to their forerunner, Takamiyama, the man who paved their way.



Links:
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=4050
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takamiyama_Daigor%C5%8D

Legends of the Dohyo #1: The Unbreakable Record


Futabayama

In the world of sport, there are a select number of records so substantial, set by athletes who transcended their sport, that they are considered unbreakable. Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 career points, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak, Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive games played. All great records, all thought to be unbreakable. Yet there is one record that may genuinely never be bested: Yokozuna Futabayama Sadaji’s 69 consecutive wins.

At the age of fifteen Futabayama entered the world of sumo, making his Makuuchi debut five years later in 1932. His meteoric rise up the banzuke from mid-Juryo to Meagashira 4, an unusually large promotion, was the result of many of the sports top stars going on strike due to demands for reform within the Sumo Association. Desperate for talent, The Association put their faith in the young Futabayama. Their faith was well founded, and it did not take long for him to find success in the top division. In March of 1936 Futabayama won his first yusho at the rank of Sekiwake with a perfect 11-0 record. As a result of his impressive zen-yusho victory, Futabayama was awarded the rank of Ozeki for the following tournament. As an Ozeki, he would go on to win both bashos in 1937* with perfect zensho-yusho records and became the sports 35th Yokozuna.

At this point in his career Futabayama had garnered a great deal of public attention. Spectators eagerly attended tournaments to see just how long the Yokozuna could stretch his winning streak. Capitalizing on this popularity, the Sumo Association extended the number of days each basho ran from 11 to 13 and eventually to the 15-day tournaments we see today. Futabayama would continue his winning ways with an additional two zensho-yusho in 1938. His streak would come to an end on the eighth day of the 1939 Haru basho when Futabayama, who was ill with dysentery, was finally defeated by future Yokozuna Akinoumi Setsuo. Although his undefeated record had been capped at 69 victories, Futabayama continued to find success in his career. He would go on to win another six more yusho and would open his own stable in 1941 while still an active rikishi, an act now forbidden by the Sumo Association. After his retirement in 1945, Futabayama revealed that he had been robbed of his sight in one eye as a child, making the incredible achievements throughout his career even more impressive.

Since setting the record for most consecutive wins, many other great Yokozuna such as Taiho and Chiyonofuji have tried and fallen short of surpassing Futabayamas most enduring legacy. In 2010, Yokozuna Hakuho became the closest in modern time to breaking the record. Believing himself to have been born to eclipse Futabayama’s achievement, Hakuho fell just six wins short of drawing even with his Yokozuna predecessor. If the greatest rikishi of our time could not overcome Futabayama’s record 69 consecutive wins, Then it can truly be said to be unbreakable.

*During the late 1930’s and early 1940’s only two basho were held each year



Links:
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=3763
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futabayama_Sadaji


Kyushu Banzuke Crystal Ball


image

Like every tournament, Wacky Aki will have reshuffled the wrestlers’ ranks. The new banzuke for Kyushu won’t be announced until October 30, two weeks before the start of the basho on November 12. But if you want to get a good idea of where your favorite rikishi will end up being ranked, without having to wait a month, you’ve come to the right place. The banzuke forecast below should be accurate to within one or at most two ranks. There’s one real wildcard this time around, where the forecast might miss wildly, but we’ll get to that later in the post.

Upper San’yaku

Y1 Harumafuji Hakuho
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu
O1 Goeido Takayasu

As the only Yokozuna to start, finish, and win the tournament, Harumafuji takes over the top spot, switching places with Hakuho. The other three Yokozuna retain their rank order relative to each other. As the only Ozeki to finish Aki, as runner-up no less, Goeido takes over the O1e rank, switching places with Takayasu, who will be kadoban at Kyushu. And of course, we are down to two Ozeki: Terunofuji will drop to Sekiwake for Kyushu, with one chance to reclaim Ozeki status with double-digit wins. Whether or not he’ll be healthy enough to participate, much less get double-digit wins, is an open question; the same goes for Takayasu, who will need 8 wins to retain his rank.

Lower San’yaku

S1 Mitakeumi Yoshikaze
S2 Terunofuji
K Kotoshogiku Onosho

Mitakeumi and Yoshikaze both did just enough at Aki to retain their rank, each going 8-7. They will return as Sekiwake 1e and Sekiwake 1w, respectively. Terunofuji appears at the slightly unusual rank of S2e. Both Tamawashi (7-8) and Tochiozan (6-9) will vacate their Komusubi slots after failing to get their kachi-koshi. Among the higher-placed rank-and-filers, only Kotoshogiku and Onosho earned double-digit wins, and will take over the Komusubi slots.

Upper Maegashira

M1 Tamawashi Chiyotairyu
M2 Takakeisho Tochiozan
M3 Hokutofuji Shohozan
M4 Chiyonokuni Ichinojo
M5 Takarafuji Arawashi

This group is a mix of upper-ranked rikishi who are dropping in rank, but not very far (Tamawashi, Tochiozan, and Hokutofuji) and those in the upper half of the maegashira ranks with the strongest performances at Aki. Depending on the health and participation of the San’yaku ranks in Kyushu, some or all of this group will make up the joi. A case can easily be made for switching the positions of Hokutofuji and Shohozan.

Mid-Maegashira

M6 Chiyoshoma Daishomaru
M7 Tochinoshin Shodai
M8 Takanoiwa Chiyomaru
M9 Endo Ikioi
M10 Daieisho Kaisei
M11 Aoiyama Asanoyama

Twice as many kachi-koshi as make-koshi records in this group. Daishomaru, Endo, and Asanoyama make big jumps up the banzuke after earning double-digit wins at Aki. Conversely, the injured Tochinoshin and Aoiyama take big tumbles. This group also contains the underperforming Shodai and Ikioi. A case can be made for dropping Shodai (and, less likely, Tochinoshin) below Takanoiwa and Chiyomaru, and for dropping Ikioi below Daieisho and Kaisei.

Lower Maegashira

M12 Kagayaki Takekaze
M13 Okinoumi Aminishiki
M14 Kotoyuki Ura
M15 Nishikigi Myogiryu
M16 Daiamami

This group contains one of the worst performers at Aki, Kagayaki, as well as two rikishi who narrowly held on to their places in Makuuchi: Okinoumi and Nishikigi. It also contains the four rikishi who should be promoted from Juryo: top-division returnees Aminishiki, Kotoyuki and Myogiryu, as well as the amusingly named newcomer Daiamami Genki—may he live up to his family given name in his Makuuchi debut. These four take the places of rikishi demoted to Juryo: Ishiura, Tokushoryu, Yutakayama, and Sadanoumi.

Now, the wildcard: our favorite pink-sporting rikishi, Ura, who badly aggravated his already injured knee and had to drop out after two days and only one win. Based on a very limited history of similar cases, I placed him at M14w. I’d be surprised to see him ranked much higher, and he could be ranked as low as M16e, or even demoted from Makuuchi altogether, in favor of marginal promotion candidate Homarefuji. Of course, Ura’s participation in Kyushu is a huge question mark at best, but being ranked in the top division would limit the rate at which he drops down the banzuke if he sits out one or more tournaments.

For a Juryo forecast, I don’t think I can do any better than point you to predictions made on SumoForum by frequent Tachiai commenter Asashosakari and others.