translated by Olivia Nagioff
proofread by Susan Lyon
The new rikishi on the banzuke
After the slim pickings of the last few months, once again the recruits are arriving in more reasonable numbers!
Seven young fighters passed the mae-zumo tests last November, and thus appear on the banzuke for Hatsu 2007. To this we must add a fighter who is exempt from these tests and makes his debut directly in makushita.
Two rikishi emerge as the stars of this promotion: Masumeidai and Ichihara (although we might note that Masumeidai’s mae-zumo tournament was partly spoilt: he suffered one defeat).
The third “star” of this banzuke is really multiple stars: the rikishi returning to the banzuke (they had dropped out of the rankings – become banzuke-gaidue – to absence). There are, in fact, no fewer than six on this banzuke! Among them, note the return of Kinryuzan, absent for a year and half (and injured again). Also note the thunderous return of Hisanoumi, veteran of sandanme division, on whom we must rely for the jonokuchi yusho!
Lastly, a particular shin-deshi deserves mention: Otokoyama. This deshi did indeed pass his physical examinations, but it was in July 2005! Since then he has not taken part in a single combat (not even in mae-zumo). He finally managed it in November, and here he is, finally making his debut in January 2007.
Let us now move on to the two main stars for January.
Here we have a good-sized rikishi (1.89 m). His main characteristic is that he is a graduate of a large university (or almost; he will be in March). He comes from the University of Nagoya, also known as ‘Meidai’. Shuichi Tanaka will, therefore, have the unusual feature of having the name of his university in his shikona!
Few rikishi are graduates of such a prestigious university. Another example we can cite is veteran rikishi Ichinoya. Masumeidai has admitted that he has dreamed of meeting this famous predecessor in combat, something which may be possible, considering Ichinoya’s current ranking, in low jonidan.
His shisho, Chiganoura oyakata, believes he will be able to adapt quickly to the world of professional sumo, to gain at least 20 kilos, and to progress quickly in the banzuke.
This represents the biggest event of the last few years! For the first time since the new rules governing makushita tsukedashi were put in place, a deshi has been placed at makushita tsukedashi 10. If he manages not to lose in January, then promotion to juryo could not be refused him!
Ichihara at his physical examination (mainichi)
Ichihara is the first to have profited from this provision reserved for the most talented amateurs, thanks to his victories in the Japan Games and the National Amateur Championships. During his university career, Ichihara won no fewer than eleven tournaments! That is an impressive run and means that one cannot but expect great things of this 22 year old. His technique and power seem already very significant, and in any case, more than those shown by the last makushita tsukedashi (who have mostly been disappointing after their professional debut).
It should be noted that he could have won a third major tournament, losing only in the final of the Japanese university championship. When he was at school he was already number 1 in Japan. And at college? The same, number 1. He was thus a school yokozuna and college yokozuna, but not university yokozuna (having finished only second).
This lovely little fellow of 165 kg has joined Kise beya, directed by former maegashira Higonoumi, who attended the same university (Nichidai) as he did.
Kise oyakata (ex-Higonoumi) and his star recruit Ichihara (mainichi)
He will unquestionably be one to reckon with in January. Ichihara has admitted that he wants to become the fastest rikishi to reach the ranks of the sekitori. He will thus be very motivated when he faces the best rikishi in makushita!
Reminder of the rules for makushita tsukedashi
This rule has long existed to make it possible for the best young fighters to avoid going through the lower ranks. Since the 1960s, however, this principle has been codified to give a precise rank to these privileged deshi.
From 1966 to 2001, the qualified rikishi began at the bottom of makushita division (makushita 60 tsukedashi). For that qualification, a rikishi had simply to be regarded as “very good”. In 1993, this criterion was made more objective: in order to meet this requirement, a deshi had to perform well in the major tournaments (for example, to reach the final sixteen in the National Championships).
Since 2001 the rules have become even stricter: An amateur winning one of the four major titles in Japan gains the right to begin at makushita tsukedashi 15. In the event of two victories the same year, he is offered the chance to start at makushita tsukedashi 10. The other rikishi begin in jonokuchi (like Masumeidai for example); and it is the same for tsukedashi qualifiers if they do not take up their rank in the same year as their victory (or victories).
[Thank you to Joe Kuroda, Moti Dichne and “Madorosumaru”]
The new rikishi on the banzuke in January 2007
|rank||shikona||real name||date of birth||height||weight||heya|
|Jonokuchi 30 East||Fujimori||Toshiki Fujimori||31 August 1988||175 cm||128 kg||Kise|
|Jonokuchi 30 West||Masumeidai||Shuichi Tanaka||16 March 1984||189 cm||110 kg||Chiganoura|
|Jonokuchi 31 West||Toriumi||Shigeo Toriumi||30 October 1989||174 cm||153 kg||Nakamura|
|Jonokuchi 32 East||Tamadaito||Takahiro Tanaka||29 January 1991||178 cm||151 kg||Kataonami|
|Jonokuchi 32 West||Sadanohama||Keishi Hamaguchi||17 March 1988||185 cm||132 kg||Sakaigawa|
|Jonokuchi 33 East||Matsushita||Daiki Yasumiya||2 August 1989||178 cm||114 kg||Magaki|
|Jonokuchi 33 West||Otokoyama||Akito Mizuse||24 April 1990||174 cm||75 kg||Takadagawa|
|Makushita tsukedashi 10||Ichihara||Takayuki Ichihara||16 August 1984||182 cm||165 kg||Kise|
Average height of the shin-deshi: 1.79 m (range 1.74 m to 1.89 m).
Average weight of the shin-deshi: 128 kg (range 75 kg to 165 kg).
Banzuke-gai rikishi making their return to the banzuke
|rank||shikona||last basho||last appearance on the banzuke||highest rank||debut||height||weight||heya|
|Jonokuchi 35 West||Kinryuzan||March 2005||September 2005||Sd 42||May 2003||187 cm||139 kg||Matsugane|
|Jonokuchi 34 East||Kanai||January 2006||March 2006||Jk 24||July 2005||177 cm||104 kg||Michinoku|
|Jonokuchi 29 West||Hisanoumi||September 2005||May 2006||Sd 24||March 2001||181 cm||90 kg||Tagonoura|
|Jonokuchi 34 West||Kotokaneko||March 2006||July 2006||Jd 74||March 2002||189 cm||115 kg||Sadogatake|
|Jonokuchi 31 East||Nishikawa||July 2006||September 2006||Jd 126||March 2006||168 cm||135 kg||Tagonoura|
|Jonokuchi 35 East||Yamamoto||July 2006||September 2006||Jk 2||March 2005||171 cm||115 kg||Naruto|
Mae-zumo bouts in November 2006: outstanding facts
Only unbeaten deshi: Hisanoumi (banzuke-gai), 3 wins.
Deshi with 1 loss: Fujimori (shin-deshi). Lost to Hisanoumi.
Deshi with 1 loss: Masumeidai (shin-deshi). Lost to Toriumi.
Others deshi with more wins than losses: Nishikawa, Toriumi and Tamadaito (3-2).
Otokoyama and Kanai had only one win to 4 losses each.
Yamamoto and Kinryuzan fought only twice before being injured. Absence feared for January.