Monday, January 1, 2007

Behind the Curtain - January 2007

At last the curtain is about to rise for the New Year 2007! It has been a cold winter so far but with several debut sekitori appearing in front of the curtain at Kokukigan in Tokyo this month, things ought to be heating up just fine, with most of the heat coming from foreign wrestlers, cause for the first time in ever that three foreign born wrestlers will be stepping out from behind the curtain for the first time in the same tourney. This means that there are now a record seventeen foreign sekitori, topping the old record of sixteen set in July.

Ms2e Hakuba of Michinoku Beya debuts at J11e this January. We last mentioned him back in March 2006, when there was a 7-man playoff for the Makushita championship. In November, Hakuba got his yusho with a 7-0 record. Hakuba is one of the three foreigners getting promoted to the paid ranks, he is from Mongolia. Oyakata Michinoku (former Ozeki Kirishima) finally has gotten his 2nd sekitori since taking over the stable.

Ms1e (4-3) Wakanoho of Magaki Beya debuts at J12e this tourney. He is the 3rd Russian to earn the right to wear the silk mawashi, after Roho and his brother Hakurozan.. Wakanoho is also the first member of the March 2005 sumo debut class to get promoted to sekitori. Another interesting point is his age, eighteen years, five months, and thirteen days, making him the 8th youngest promotion in the current era of sumo. Again, the last time Wakanoho appeared in this column was in March 2006, 7-man playoff for the Makushita yusho. It was poor Wakanoho that lost the final match, against the impressive Baruto. With some hard work and a little luck, Wakanoho ought to be facing Baruto on the dohyo this year, when he can exact a little revenge.

Ms3e (4-3) Koryu of Hanakago Beya debuts at J13w this basho. He is the 3rd and final foreigner stepping out from behind the curtain this tourney. He is the 2nd Mongolian getting to wear the silk mawashi this month. From the sumo debut class of November 2000, he is the first wrestler to get promoted to Juryo.

All together, Hakuba, Wakanoho and Koryu, make up the thirty-thrid, thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth sumotori promoted to the paid ranks since the end of the war. The thirty-second foreigner promoted was Ryuo from Mongolian back in July. This is also the 2nd time that two Mongolians have been promoted to Juryo at the same time, last time this happened was back in March 2004, when Tokitenku and Ama were promoted.

Ms3w (4-3) Toyohibiki of Sakaigawa Beya debuts at J14e this tournament. He also fought under his family name, Kadomoto. This is the 4th sekitori to be produced by Oyakata Sakaigawa and he appears to be on a roll, last tourney Goeido was promoted to the paid ranks. The last time someone produced back-to-back Juryo debuts in consecutive tourneys was when Kotooshu was promoted in May 2004 followed by his stablemate Kotoshogiko in July 2004. Toyohi will join his fellow sekitori and stablemates Iwakiyama, Hochiyama and Goeido. From the sumo debut batch of January 2005, Toyohi is the 3rd to step out from behind the curtain, following Tochiozan and Goeido.

Ms4w (5-2) Bushuyama of Mushigawa Beya returns to the paid ranks at J13e. It has been almost 2 years since he was able to wear the silk mawashi, having last appeared in the paid ranks back in January 2005. With his impressive record in November, we can expect him to stay in the paid ranks for some time to come.

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