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

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

Who’s That Rikishi #2: Arawashi Tsuyoshi


Arawashi

Age: 31
Birth Name: Dulgoun Erhebayar
Home Town: Ulan Bator, Mongolia
Stable: Minezaki
Highest Rank: Maegashira 2

While some rikishi experience meteoric rises up the banzuke, for others slow and steady wins the race. This was the path that Arawashi Tsuyoshi took to sumo’s top ranks. Of all the foreign-born rikishi who have ever competed in the Makuuchi division, only one has taken longer to get there than the Mongolian born Arawashi. This long and arduous path began at a 2002 junior sumo tournament. From the beginning, it was obvious that Arawashi was talented. One noteworthy spectator at this tournament was Kyokushuzan Noboru, Mongolia’s first sekitori and veritable department store of sumo techniques. Kyokushuzan was impressed by Arawashi and commented on the young man’s skill on the dohyo. Later that same year Arawashi was invited to join Araiso beya and made his professional debut at the Kyushu basho. At the same time as his debut another foreign-born rikishi, future Ozeki Kotooshu of Bulgaria, was also beginning his career. Though they may have begun together, Kotooshu advanced quickly up the ranks leaving Arawashi behind. Unperturbed, Arawashi vowed to make it to the top division to once again compete against his Bulgarian rival.

Over the next three years, Arawashi made steady progress through the ranks. This progress was disrupted when a dislocated shoulder forced him to withdraw from competition and miss the first two basho of 2006. From this point on his shoulder was prone to dislocation and would afflict the young athlete on seven different occasions. Arawashi would eventually relent to getting corrective surgery. While rehabilitating his shoulder, he began to study the techniques of Yokozuna Chiyonofuji, who had also suffered from shoulder dislocation issues throughout his career. In September of 2008, Arawashi relocated to Hanakago beya after his original stable closed due to the retirement of its owner. In the 2011 Nagoya basho, Arawashi was promoted to the Juryo division despite having a losing record in the previous tournament. This unexpected rise up the banzuke was due to the dismissal of several high ranking rikishi who had been implicated in the match-fixing scandal of 2011. Arawashi would continue to float in and out of Juryo over the next three years. Hanakago beya would close in 2012 as a result of financial difficulties. Arawashi once again found himself transferring to a new stable. The move to his current stable, Minezaki beya, seemed to have a positive effect on Arawashi. He would find more consistency in his sumo and would eventually break into the top Makuuchi division at the 2014 Natsu basho.

Debuting at Maegashira 16 Arawashi became the twenty-first Mongolian to compete in sumo’s top division. Despite reaching Makuuchi he would not be able to fulfill his vow of once again meeting Kotooshu on the dohyo. Ironically, Kotooshu announced his retirement at the very basho Arawashi had been added to the top ranks. After a career-high 11-4 winning record at the 2016 November basho, Arawashi was promoted from Maegashira 10 to Maegashira 2, his highest rank to date. Although he only managed to record six wins at this rank two were kinboshi victories over Kakuryu and Hakuho respectively. Arawashi primarily uses yori-kiri force outs and uwatenage overarm throws to win his bouts. His favorite grip is a migi-yotsu left hand outside, right hand inside hold. After Ishiura, Arawashi is the second lightest rikishi in the top division



Links:
http://www.sumo.or.jp/EnSumoDataRikishi/profile?id=2512
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=2832
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiyonofuji_Mitsugu


Who’s That Rikishi #1: Takarafuji Daisuke


Introduction

Hello, my fellow sumo fans and aficionados! I am very honored to have been invited to join the fantastic team at Tachiai.org! Since discovering the world of sumo, Tachiai has become one of my most visited sites for up to date sumo news and rikishi information. I am incredibly excited to be able to contribute to this site in any way I can! One feature that I am hoping to make a weekly post, published every Tuesday, is called Who’s That Rikishi. Many fans get to know the big names of sumo, such as Hakuho, Ura, and Kisenosato, very easily as they get a great deal of media attention. For good reason, as they are the superstars of the world of sumo. There many very talented rikishi in the top Makuuchi division with prosperous careers full of triumphs and setbacks. My goal with Who’s That Rikishi is to give readers, both old and new, exposure to rikishi they may not know a whole lot about. In addition to WTR, I am planning a second weekly post for Thursdays called Legends of the Dohyo, that will go over the rich history of sumo. I’m looking forward to writing for all of you, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy the content I add to Tachiai!

With all that out of the way, let’s get on to our first edition of Who’s That Rikishi, beginning with the somewhat overlooked Fuji of Isegahama beya: Takarafuji Daisuke.

Who’s That Rikishi #1: Takarafuji Daisuke

Takarafuji

Age: 30
Birth Name: Daisuke Sugiyama
Home Town: Nakadomari, Japan
Stable: Isegahama
Highest Rank: Sekiwake

Takarafuji Daisuke was born with sumo in his blood. As a young child, the Nakadomari native would practice at a sumo stable near his home. As a teenager, Takarafuji garnered a lot of attention from several stables after competing in national competitions. Despite being scouted, Takarafuji chose to pursue his education and graduate high school. After high school, he attended Kinki University, the alma mater of Asahifuji Seiya, the 63rd Yokozuna, and shisho of Isegahama beya, who invited Takarafuji to join his stable after graduating. The young rikishi made his professional debut in January of 2009 and would go on to have early success in his career, eventually collecting a Sandanme division championship with a perfect 7-0 record. After four great tournaments in Juryo, Takarafuji made his Makuuchi debut at the 2011 Nagoya basho, the same basho in which his fellow Isegahama stablemate Harumafuji won his first Emperor’s Cup. Although this fist top division basho resulted in a dismal 4-11 record that saw him back in Juryo by September, he would eventually become a Makuuchi mainstay in March of the following year.

In 2015 Takarafuji broke into the san’yaku ranks and debuted at Komusubi for the Natsu basho, but found himself back in the Maegashira by the following tournament. 2016 would prove to be one of the best years of Takurafuji’s career, as he would again have a short stint as Komusubi in March, and would go on to attain his highest rank of Sekiwake after getting a kinboshi victory over Hakuho and the fighting spirit prize in Nagoya. After another terrible 4-11 record at Sekiwake, Takarafuji again found himself relegated to the Maegashira ranks, where he has remained to this day. Takarafuji heavily uses yotsu-sumo in his bouts, winning 35 percent of his matches with an oshidashi or push out technique. His favorite grip is a right hand outside, left hand inside hidari-yotsu. In addition to sumo, Takarafuji has dabbled in the world of acting and starred in a 2016 commercial for Nippon Paint.



Links:
http://www.sumo.or.jp/EnSumoDataRikishi/profile?id=3150
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=11728
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takarafuji_Daisuke