Jonokuchi is the lowest division in sumo. Unless you are successful at the amateur or college level, thereby earning a privileged debut in Sandanme or Makushita, you begin your career here after a short maezumo assessment. For most, especially for those who become sekitori, Jonokuchi is an introductory tournament or two, while the real education begins in Jonidan and Sandanme. It’s the first time you see your name in lights (well, ink) on the banzuke. And it’s also the first time to see whether you can last a tournament, seven bouts over a fortnight.
Many cannot last long and fall off the banzuke and leave the sport (and the heya life) fairly quickly. Some linger in the division for years, like Hattorizakura, or jump back and forth between Jonokuchi and Jonidan like Sawaisamu. Ultimately, in the search for the next one, the search must start in this division where Hakuho, Kakuryu, Kisenosato, and Harumafuji all began their careers. As we close out 2019, let’s take a look at who is in Jonokuchi.
This November, there are fifty-nine wrestlers in the division. Seven did not compete in the first two days, kyujo. Of those who did compete, one, Moriurara, actually started his tournament with a visit to Jonidan. There’s a wide range in ages, heights, and weights, though there’s definitely a cluster of young and relatively thin wrestlers.
The tallest, Okuniashi, is 188 cm while two wrestlers tied for shortest at 165 cm (both won their first bout). The largest wrestler is Daigonishiki, 188kg while the slightest was Nangu at 67kg. Nangu had a really nice uwatenage on Day 1. Using body-mass index, Hattorizakura has the lowest BMI at 21.6, dwarfed by Daigonishiki’s 60.72.
Now that the First match-day is over for these chaps, we get an interesting look at how the cluster of young upstarts had quite a bit of success at the expense of larger, older wrestlers. Senho, one of Hakuho’s protégés whom Herouth has been following since his debut, is one of the red marks on the far right. He just started this year. Though he is tall, his BMI of 28.34 puts him well below that trend line. He has time to bulk up and “skill up.” Hanakaze is at the extreme left end of this scale, as he’s nearly fifty years old, started his sumo career in 1986…but he still picked up a win. If his love for sumo holds up, he should be able to bounce back into Jonidan.
Day 2 in the lower divisions (except Juryo) complements day 1. The rikishi who did not fight on day 1 get to meet the closest ranked opponent possible. From Day 3, opponents will be chosen – in most cases – from the ones who have the same number of wins, thus creating a quick elimination for the yusho, and balancing the sides as much as possible.