The Tachiai crew is eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the Natsu banzuke, in a little less than 24 hours. Our master prognosticator, lksumo, has already rendered his forecast, and we eagerly await to see if the banzuke committee took the easy road and just copy / pasted his predictions.
We will deviate form the normal format this time, as we will conduct our Banzuke Podcast next weekend, rather than tomorrow night. But we will be posting to the blog with reckless abandon as soon as we can. If you are in Tokyo, keep an eye out for our roving reporter Josh. If you find him and buy him at least 1 beer, you could win a pre-release Tachiai sumo-fan t-shirt!
Stay tuned to Tachiai! It’s time to shift sumo fandom into high gear!
Tachiai congratulates Georgian born Levan Gorgadze better known in the sumo world as Tochinoshin. Tachiai writer Givemechanko wrote an excellent profile on him in October of 2017, and I encourage fans to take a look and learn more about the man who accomplished something quite rare: Winning the Emperor’s Cup from the rank and file Maegashira ranks. The last time this happened was 2012 when Kyokutenho, who is now Tomozuna stable master, claimed the Emperors cup during May 2012.
Tochinoshin entered Hatsu ranked at Maegashira 3 West, a member of the ultra-competitive upper joi-jin, comprised of sumo’s champions, grand champions, named ranks and top rank and file rikishi. He proceeded to defeat all challengers except Yokozuna Kakuryu in a stunning march to the championship. Tochinoshin’s primary weapon is an almost inhuman strength. He is known to lift 400+ pound men completely off their feet and carry them over the edge of the ring. Time and time again, he would endure whatever tsuppari or oshi attack an opponent might hurl at him off the line, pressing always to land his massive hands on their mawashi, and thereby beginning to out-muscle them.
Many fans are whispering that his outstanding performance portends his future at higher ranks, including wishful discussion of his starting a campaign to take up an Ozeki rank later this year. To those enthusiasts, I would ask them to temper their hopes with the knowledge that Tochinoshin is 30, which is on the older side for a rikishi. He is also only as good as the health of his damaged knee, which he keeps massively bandaged. His prior middling performances in previous tournaments can be largely attributed to his damaged knee, and the pain it must generate nearly every day. His recent tournament history includes him completely withdrawing from last year’s Hatsu basho on day 6, after failing to win a single match.
We wish Tochinoshin a glorious celebration, and a reunion with his family in Georgia soon, to celebrate the recent birth of his daughter and his monumental accomplishment of battling back from horrific injuries to claim the Emperor’s Cup.
Among the yusho prizes is this giant macaroon (macaron) which is awarded to the victor. On this auspicious occasion, it is green. I imagine you saying “But Bruce, surely that is just a plastic model!”. But I have it on good authority, that the ones awarded to Kisenosato were eaten before the yusho parade.