The Japanese Sumo Association has announced a date for former Takekaze’s danpatsushiki at Kokugikan. For those who will still be around Tokyo for the week after Hatsu basho, which runs through Jan 27, the retirement event would be a great way to see some more action. There will likely be hanazumo and shokkiri, and sumo culture demonstrations that are more familiar scenes in Jungyo tours rather than hon basho.
The ceremony will culminate in the hair cutting for the former Sekiwake. For Takekaze this will surely have participation from former Oguruma stablemates Yoshikaze and Yago, and likely contemporary Yokozuna or two.
Five wrestlers were promoted to the full-time salaried ranks of Juryo. Mitoryu (6-1) and Akua (5-2) will make their Juryo debuts Hatsubasho. Three others will be returning, Kizenryu, Daishoho, and Makushita yusho winner Tochihiryu.
In other news, nine wrestlers announced their retirement with the headliner obviously being Yokozuna Harumafuji. Kotohayashi from Sandanme, four Jonidan wrestlers (Suekawa, Kasuganami, Hasugeyama, Mutsumi), two Jonokuchi wrestlers (Tomiyama & Masuyama) and unranked Wakainoue also called it quits.
It’s a very sad day in sumo. Until Terunofuji was promoted, the man had won more yusho than the three ozeki. At 40 years old, he would have turned 41 on the first day of the Fall tournament. He entered sumo in 1992. George H. W. Bush was President of the United States, François Mitterrand was President of France. The Soviet Union had just dissolved a few months before. Nirvana was touring its release of Nevermind. Yes, Kurt Cobain was still alive. In sports, the Washington Redskins, led by Mark Rypien beat Jim Kelly’s Buffalo Bills in Superbowl XXVI. The Premier League was just created from the English First Division. Back in Japan, Konishiki won the March yusho.
Former Ozeki Kotomitsuki (琴光喜) had his topknot cut yesterday after losing his lawsuit seeking reinstatement to the makuuchi. Kotomitsuki was banned in 2010 for illegal gambling on baseball. I believe these hair-cutting ceremonies are usually done in the dohyo but this just seems to be a hotel conference room. Former yokozuna and sumo legend, Takanohana (貴乃花), is the one cutting his top-knot.
All three current yokozuna were present at the ceremony, as was Kotoshogiku. He’s still well-loved and well-respected by many sumo fans, so maybe he could be seen as the Pete Rose of sumo.
He also got into a spot of legal trouble last year related to his restaurant for hiring foreigners without the proper visas. Again, that’s another sensitive issue here in the US, as well. When I was in Japan, one of my roommates was kicked out of the country for working illegally as a manager of some British pubs. I had other roommates who were working “under-the-table” at hostess clubs. Anyway, it’s hard to keep one’s nose clean if you’re constantly pushed to the margins of society. I’m certainly in favor of immigration reform, particularly legalizing people who want to work.
Though it does not come as much surprise due to the nature of his latest injury, Homasho has announced his retirement at the age of 33. He has missed the last three tournaments due to an ACL tear suffered in July in a bout with Harumafuji. He had just bounced back into the upper ranks of maegashira after being demoted to the lower Juryo division in 2013 and again to start 2014 due to previous injuries.
Over the course of the last twelve basho, he had only completed 6, three of them in Juryo. While recovering from the ACL tear, he had dropped out of the salaried sumo ranks to Makushita #7 and would surely face further demotion if he were to try to compete in March.
Before these injury plagued two years, Homasho was a solid upper Maegashira wrestler and had acheived the rank of komusubi three times. Each time he reached komusubi, however, he was only able to garner four wins so he’d drop back into the maegashira rank-and-file. He has won the Fighting Spirit prize five times and the Technique prize twice during his career. He’d also come in second, garnering jun-yusho, three times.
Tochinowaka, facing another demotion to juryo division, has retired from sumo citing a lack of motivation. Since May, his last tournament with a winning record (9-6), he has had progressively worse performances. He had only won 27% of his bouts during the last half of the year. In his final tournament he lost each of his last six matches. His final win came against Juryo #1 Kagamio. His last victory of any real consequence was a win over then-komusubi Aminishiki on the final day of the Nagoya tournament in July.
I’m a bit disappointed that at such a great time for sumo he didn’t seem to want to be there. I don’t want to say ‘glad to see him go’ but I always like to think that every time any competitor sets foot in a ring, or on a field, they give it their all. This is probably why I’ve been so disappointed with the Redskins these last few seasons. The media hype in the pre-season leads to lethargic performances and bitter sniping…but that’s another story.
With American football players, however, they get paid millions. Sumo wrestlers do not. I would like to see more sumo fans shell out and sponsor wrestlers. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Kensho kin is quite affordable. If I had my own business, I would promote it in a heartbeat with sponsorship. It was amazing to see how seriously lower-ranked wrestlers take their matches against Endo, knowing that a win will add several hundred dollars to their wallets.