I’m one of those guys who’s rather early to bed, so Jonokuchi’s 7-8pm start time, depending on Daylight Savings, lets me watch some live sumo action. While the sumo is not usually the highest quality early in the day, it gives a good glimpse at some of the up-and-comers before they get bulked up. I mean those images of scrawny Hakuho, Kakuryu, and Harumafuji…it’s hard to believe those Najima-sized kids turned out to be Yokozuna.
I’ve got five bouts for you today from Jonokuchi Match Day 1. The tournament opened with our first bout, Ikazuchido vs Yamadaumi. Ikazuchido has a judo background and has an athleticism which should see him do well in the lower divisions. He went 0-2-2 during maezumo, unfortunately being paired off against two tough opponents and then getting injured and actually missing out on his “introduction” wearing the kesho mawashi. No signs of injury in this bout, just some good footwork as he spun Yamadaumi around and pushed him backwards and off the dohyo.
Oyamada fought Ikazuchido in maezumo and pulled off a solid win. However, he’s still quite green, as we see in the next bout against Nippon Sports Science University graduate, Takahashi. Takahashi’s physically larger so Oyamada’s decision to attempt to meet force with lesser force, was ill-advised. Takahashi just drove forward and shoved Oyamada off the cliff. Takahashi will be a factor in the yusho race.
If there’s ever a big media frenzy around a sumo recruit, it’s usually a famous sekitori’s son or brother or nephew or something. But this tournament the big story has been Tokyo University student Suyama Hotaka. It’s not often that an Ivy Leaguer goes into amateur sports after graduating college but Suyama has made quite the splash by choosing the Heya Life. He drew lots and got to be the one to knock Sawaisamu over today. He will face bigger challenges this tournament.
As always, Najima’s heart was in his bout today but his opponent, Jokoki, dropped him like a rag doll. That slam, back hitting on the tawara, could not have been very comfortable. Ouch. We’ll get ’em tomorrow, Najima!
Lastly, two early favorites in this division are Toshunryu and Kazuto, and they fought today. Tamanoi beya recruited Toshunryu from Nippon Sport Science University, and he has decided to completely confuse me by not using either kanji for dragon at the end of his shikona, instead going with the character that I associate with taka (隆), as in Takanosho. Kazuto comes from a high school with a sumo background and is connected to the Sakamoto clan (as in Kiryuko) so he has joined them at Tatsunami stable.
— 立浪部屋 (@tatsunamibeya) April 15, 2022
We got a great, solid tachiai out of these two but after taking an early swing at Toshunryu, Kazuto ducked down to drive forward but his head was far too forward of his feet. Toshunryu struck out, pulling Kazuto’s head down and forward. It didn’t look like the first blow was going to win it, so he was ready to follow up with another shove, but Kazuto’s balance was gone. As soon as his knee hit the clay, he was done. We’ll get good bouts out of both of these gentlemen.