Thursday, June 7, 2007

Behind the Curtain - May 2000

He was one of the first to wake up early every morning to train, everyday. He was one of the last to eat at every meal, waiting for the senior members, or senpai, of the stable to eat their fill. He has spent 8 years living in a sumo stable. Training hard. Working hard. He has helped care for the senpai of his stable, from fetching their things, to washing their backsides. Stepping out from behind the curtain, from that of stable junior to one of the stable seniors, from sumotori to sekitori, this May Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, will be Senshuyama; along with 6 other makushita wrestlers to join the elite rank of juryo.

Senshuyama is from Takasago stable, where he once served as the attendant, or tsukebito, of Hawaiian ex-sumotori Nanfu. It is rumored that Nanfu trained him especially hard. Today, Nanfu can be proud of the results. Senshuyama build is small and light. While struggling in lower ranks he found that if he worked out extensively with weights, his weight would go down, but he would gain the extra power his small build needed to compete against the bigger wrestlers. Then if he focused on bunking up to get bigger, staying away from weight training, he would lose the extra strength, yet get bigger. It seems he has figure out a balance to weight training and putting on weight. At Osaka, from the west makushita 5, Senshuyama just made the cut to juryo, with 4 victories and 3 defeats. This will be Senshuyama first time ranked in juryo.

At the opposite side of the banzuke, at east makushita 5, Tamanokuni scored a perfect 7 victories, to win the makushita championship. If a wrestler wins all his makushita bouts, while ranked makushita 15 or above, he automatically gets promoted to juryo. This will not be Tamanokuni's first trip to juryo, he was ranked juyro 13 last year's Nagoya Basho. With his size of 192 cm. and weight of 163 kg, he should have an extended stay in juryo.

Tamanokuni's younger brother, Tamanonada (5-2), is also returning to juyro in May. These two brothers are both members of Katanonami stable. Their home prefecture is Fukushima, famous for delicious rice and rice wine, or sake. Both entered sumo during the 1998 Osaka Basho. Tamanonada first entered juryo in last year's Aki basho at Tokyo. Tamanokuni beat his younger brother to the juryo division by just one basho, debuting in last year's Nagoya Basho. However Tamanonada stayed in juryo longer, rising up as far as juryo 7. The younger Tamanonada is also smaller and lighter, at 186 cm and 144 kg. And though this might not be another Taka-Waka in the making, it always interesting watching brothers compete in sumo, though like Taka-Waka, since they are from the same stable, under the current rules we will never see them compete against each other, except in a playoff. What makes it more interesting is their difference in style, older Tamanokuni likes to push while younger Tamanonada likes going for the belt.

Along with Senshuyama, there will be two other first timers, out from behind the curtain, in May. Musashigawa stable gets it sixth sekitori, Buyuzan, who produced a fine 5 victories and 2 defeats from east makushita 3. Also Mastugane stable's Nodera racked up 4 victories and 3 defeats from west makushita 2 to earn his ticket to sekitori.

Along with the Tama brothers, two other sumotori are making return appearances from out behind the curtain in Natsu basho. Kasugano stable's Tochisakae had a brilliant 6 victories and 1 defeat from east maksushita 1. Finally, Tatsutagawa stable's Toyoazakura created a respectable tally of 5 victories and 2 defeats from west makushita 1.

The last time 7 sumotori were promoted from makushita to juryo was way back at 1984 Nagoya. Here's hoping that March will have been the last time that we see Senshuyama behind the curtain, serving his senpai.

Kawika ©

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