Le Monde du Sumo
N°2 - february 2004
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the full french issue, with pictures,...)
Name: Khudibayev Suyenesh
He is 19 years old. He arrived in Japan on January 9th 2003. He is a rikishi, a professional sumo wrestler. He is a Kazakh.
At an age when most teenagers are peacefully studying in high school, young Suyenesh left his family home for Almaty (Alma-Ata), the capital of Kazakhstan. Here, in addition to studying during the day, he stringed up sumo and wrestling training sessions, and with other youngsters of the sport centre took care of cooking, cleaning, his own laundry. He visited his family only once a year, in summer.
Suyenesh wanted to try himself out in professional sumo. But he was in Kazakhstan, thousands of kilometres from Japan… His salvation came from two men: Hiroyuki Morishita, a Japanese politician, who examined this project and talked about it to Takasago oyakata. The oyakata couldn’t receive Suyenesh in his own heya (which already had two foreigners). So he mentioned him to Nishikido oyakata, whose heya was one of the last without foreigners. At first hesitant, Nishikido oyakata finally agreed to a test-period, which proved to be convincing. On the November 11th 2003, Suyenesh fought and won his first professional sumo match during the trials of mae-zumo, the bouts that new recruits have to fight before appearing on the banzuke for the first time.
Presentation of new rikishi in Kyushu basho 2003
Kazafuzan (this is the shikona his oyakata chose for him) passed brilliantly the trials of mae-zumo. He won three bouts and lost only one, against Keno, a former makushita returning from an injury. A fine debut, which allowed him to be placed in the third position for the presentation of eleven new rikishi on Sunday November 16th.
With the Czech Takanoyama
Tiger was now a real rikishi. He could begin his sumo education, and this included going to school. In fact, all the young rikishi have to follow a certain number of courses, organised by the Japanese Sumo Association. In spite of his problems with understanding everything told to him in Japanese, Suyenesh found some of those lessons interesting.
Going out of his heya
Being a foreigner in Japan, and especially in the world of sumo, can often be difficult. But Tiger was able to adapt quickly. Soon his oyakata was pleased by his way of doing all what should be done without having to be asked to.
The first bout in jonokuchi (Tiger won)
Because of this, Kazafuzan must go to other heya’s training sessions. So he often goes to train in the Azumazeki beya, and sometimes comes to the training of Takasago beya. He intentionally arrives a bit late so that he can train with makushita-ranked wrestlers, whose higher level allows him to improve.
For his first tournament, Kazafuzan was ranked jonokuchi 33 west. He started the basho excited but not nervous, strongly decided to win all his matches. And it started well, at first : two victories in a row. Unfortunately, he fell in his third fight against… Keno, once again, who would eventually win the divisional yusho.
Many thanks to Katrina Wats for the information on Kazafuzan