A look at the last winners of the most matches in a calendar year – part III

Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi – 2018

The road to the top

Tochinoshin’s rise to the first division has been blistering, needing just two years to move from maezumo to makuuchi. Tochinoshin has always been an impressive yotsu wrestler ; focusing on the opponent’s mawashi has proved to be an efficient technique for him. Despite indifferent performances through the years, he managed to finish runner-up on two occasions, in November of 2009 and May of 2011.

Unfortunately, he suffered an anterior cruciate ligement injury in 2013, which saw him falling back to makushita. Appropriate treatment saw him, however, climb back, getting back to back juryo championships to regain a solid status in makuuchi.

After more years spent in makuuchi (with one initial sekiwake appearance in Nagoya 2016), Tochinoshin’s strengh seemingly improved and became the surprise winner of the January 2018 basho – the first being won by a maegashira since Kyokutenho in 2012, and Kotomitsuki back in 2001.

Tochinoshin’s win against yokozuna Kakuryu in Osaka 2018

That unexepected win proved to be no fluke however, as, despite being physically diminished, he produced a solid 10-5 in March of 2018, and sealed his ozeki promotion with an impressive 13-2 in May, defeating Hakuho for the first time in the process.

Tochinoshin’s win against yokozuna Hakuho in May 2018

Tochinoshin could unfortunately no replicate such performances from here, his knees continuing to trouble him. Nevertheless, collecting twenty two more wins by the end of 2018 meant no one matched the Georgian’s total of 59 wins.

What happened next ?

Sadly, Tochinoshin could not produce sufficient results, as recurring injuries severely impeded his style of wrestling. He was demoted a first time from his ozeki rank after two losing records, but managed to regain his rank with the minimum of ten wins required in May of 2019. Three more losing records meant he got demoted a second time and could not claim his rank back.Hopefully for him, his health will give him some respite so that we can see again the fearful, combattive Tochinoshin who illuminated the first part of the sumo year 2018.

We’ll close our review with the rikishi whose 55 wins in 2019 could not be matched : Asanoyama.

Tochi-plomashi

Tochinoshin entertained a high-profile guest yesterday…new Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili. Mrs. Zourabichvili was elected last December and is their first female head of state in the Caucasus. Born in Paris, she actually served as the French Ambassador to Georgia before claiming Georgian nationality (both of her parents were Georgian) and serving as Foreign Minister of Georgia under Michail Saakashvili, himself a rather entertaining character. Perhaps she learned an appreciation for sumo from Jacques Chirac?

In this op-ed, published shortly before taking office, she stressed her desire to strengthen the country’s European ties, including hopeful EU and NATO membership. Cold-war rivalries play out with more than bitter elections here. For five days in 2008, the country fought Russian-backed independence wars in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a warm-up for eventual seizure of Crimea. Zourabichvili was elected one month after Russia attacked and boarded Ukrainian ships in the Azov Sea. The country shares its Southern border with Turkey.

Putin is a Judoka, Right? (photo: @NicolaAnn08)

As noted in her article, the President is also hoping to end the outward flow of young talent from the country, bringing them back to Georgia. Tochinoshin has expressed a desire to return home after his eventual retirement from sumo. As long as his knees hold out, he will carry on. And, as we see in the video below, the Georgian giant has his own skills in diplomacy.

Fantastic video provided with permission from our friends at AdjaraSport.com

President Zourabichvili’s term has so far been characterized by these East-West tensions. Protests erupted in June when a Russian member of the Duma, and representative of the Communist Party, was allowed to make a speech from the Georgian Parliament. Public outrage at the Russian occupation of Georgian territory is still substantial and efforts by the Georgian Dream party to soften its tone and attempt diplomatic solutions with Russia have been…not liked.

The protests led to a push for sanctions against Georgia in the Russian Duma. Russia is Georgia’s largest trading partner, drinking more than 60% of its wine exports. Zourabichvili has said she would like to visit the US to meet Donald Trump as soon as invited. Her meeting with Tochinoshin appears to have been in Tokyo yesterday. If European ties haven’t been able to get her on Trump’s guest list, maybe Eastern ties will do the trick?

Aki 2019 Jungyo report – Day 9

Today’s event was supposed to have been day 10, but of the three events in Shizuoka prefecture, the one at Izu – which was the place where the typhoon made its landfall – has been cancelled. Around noon October 13th, the rikishi finally left Yamanashi prefecture and headed around Mt. Fuji, down to Shizuoka, in big buses. There have been no safety issues for the rikishi and their support staff from the weather.

Continue reading

Aki 2019 Jungyo report – Day 7

From Chiba, we head west to Kanagawa prefecture. Since these Jungyo reports are actually posted a couple of days after the event, we now know that Typhoon #19 has been through many of the areas the Jungyo was planned in. You’ll see a happy town of Sagamihara today, but two days later, it will be disaster area. Post-typhoon events are likely to be accompanied by rounds to comfort the survivors. But today we’ll concentrate on the happy side.

Continue reading