Ishiura Retires, Becomes Magaki-Oyakata

You weren’t expecting that news this morning, were you? Neither was I, frankly. We’d known Ishiura’s retirement was going to happen fairly soon but the fact that he would stay on with the Kyokai has taken us by surprise. Even more surprising is that the Magaki kabu has been occupied by the former Chikubayama, Hakuho’s former stable-master. So he’s out. As Ishiura’s kesho mawashi says, “Carpe Diem.”

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the fact that all of these kabu are in use and questions about various succession timelines. I imagine it works the same as any equity. If you own stock in Root Beer, Inc., (I like Root Beer), and more people want your stock, the value of that stock goes up. Root Beer, Inc. to the moon, baby!! But if you issue more stock, it dilutes the value of the equity you have and the price goes down. If we start handing out Kabu to every Hakuho, Terunofuji, and Harry, it will decrease the value of those already in circulation. So I presume these are the conversations that are going on among the oyakata — and may have even factored into the choice not to create a new Hakuho kabu but that’s speculation. The big difference is that I can’t be aged out of my ownership of Root Beer, Inc. when I hit 70 — and I can also buy it back if I’m full of regerts.

What does this mean? Well, ex-Magaki — I’m talking about Chikubayama, not Hakuho here — is out of the Kyokai. He’d had sanyo status where he was a retired advisor attached to Hakuho’s Miyagino-beya. The Kyokai’s profile page for Miyagino-beya has already been updated to reflect the change. So I need to look somewhere else to show you an example. Recently, Irumagawa-oyakata retired and Ikazuchi-oyakata took over. Irumagawa is still attached to Ikazuchi-beya as sanyo, and he can stay there for five years, collecting income. It’s not a big leap to presume Ishiura would have paid a premium to buy Chikubayama out early, or that this timeline was the reason for Ishiura’s delayed retirement announcement (we’ve kind of known he wouldn’t return to the dohyo for a while). Cash out before being forced out? It’s a sensible choice. Carpe Pay Day-um?

Tochinoshin Retires

Yesterday afternoon rumors started to spread that Tochinoshin had retired. The only news I was finding at that time were a few social media posts and an article out of his native Georgia but nothing seemed to be official, so I wanted to hold off on the report until I got more concrete word. I fell asleep sometime during Jonidan action but when I woke up, I woke up to images of Tochinoshin in a blue kimono in front of the purple and white Sumo Kyokai press-conference backdrop. It’s official. Former Ozeki, Tochinoshin, has retired.

Perhaps it’s fitting that the end of his career comes on the heels of Ichinojo’s retirement because during their heyday, their bouts were always a highlight bout featuring Tochinoshin’s strength versus Ichinojo’s size. That sky-crane strength catapulted Tochinoshin to a top-division title in 2018 which precipitated his successful Ozeki-tori, which was really the pinnacle of his career.

Injuries had hindered his initial, rapid, rise up the banzuke, forcing him to miss several tournaments in 2013 and fall into Makushita. He came back, though, and barnstormed his way to consecutive Makushita titles, then consecutive Juryo titles, on his way back to the top division and eventually, the sport’s second-highest rank. But he, and the sumo world, knew that he was fighting on borrowed time. He had a short reign as Ozeki and his performance declined during the pandemic years as he slid, agonizingly, into Juryo. Winless in Tokyo, and with demotion from sekitori status a greater possibility, he has called it quits.

Tochinoshin does not have a kabu and will likely return to Georgia. His influence there, along with Gagamaru, will hopefully continue to spark interest in the sport and hopefully a new generation of recruits to compete at the highest levels.

Michinoku-Beya Violence Scandal

The last thing Michinoku-oyakata wants right now is to rock the boat. His star pupil, Kiribayama, is on the cusp of an Ozeki-run with this tournament being the most pivotal. Unfortunately, Herouth comes to us with news on Twitter that Kirinofuji is accused of multiple acts of violence against his heya-mate, Yasunishi. The details are unpleasant to say the least, which included acts of physical as well as verbal abuse in a campaign “intended as education.”

It’s always difficult to parse through these scandals without trying to understand all sides. Why would Michinoku-oyakata and team attempt to minimize the abuse? Is it to avoid scandal and close the matter quickly, or did they genuinely feel the abuse was somehow legitimate or somehow excusable? The assertion that this is how brothers are…when the allegations include shooting with an airgun and being hit with a pan…rings a bit hollow.

It’s good to hear that in this case it seems Yasunishi has been getting some good counsel (and possible support from) an unnamed anideshi. But it’s extremely difficult to see how such behavior will be rooted out of the sport if it is minimized to this degree to where, up until the Kirinofuji intai, it’s basically being passed off as acceptable. Yes, there are horseplay and disagreements…but then there’s abuse. It’s important for the sport that its leaders and management be able to discern the difference and act appropriately, which does not appear to have happened in this case. Thus, the scandal-meter is unfortunately back. (Hint: Pans are for cooking, not attitude adjustment. Airsoft is for the Airsoft venue with appropriate protective equipment, not enforcement of chores or status.)

Ichinojo Retires

I certainly couldn’t let this go by with just a passing sentence in an unrelated post. But yesterday’s news was such a shock and there was little on details.

It is official, Ichinojo has retired. The Mongolian Monster was beloved for his love of ice cream. Much light was made of his rural upbringing and jokes of tossing ponies around. However, his back pain proved too much to bear and he is walking away from the sport, even after consulting with his stablemaster and parents.

His relationship with Minato-oyakata had been strained over the past year, with much coming to light just after he had won his top division title. There have been concerns for his health and welfare but it had looked like he might be able to put that recent drama aside. He had just won the Juryo yusho, reclaiming his spot in Makuuchi after losing it to his one basho suspension. But it appears that he has been unable to train or compete and in a considerable amount of pain, so he could not be talked out of this path.

He has Japanese citizenship but does not have a kabu (stock) so he will not be staying on in the Kyokai as an oyakata. We at Tachiai wish him well in his future endeavors and will hopefully be able to keep track of whatever career path he decides to follow.