Thursday, June 7, 2007

Behind the Curtain - May 2003

Stepping out behind the curtain this Natsu basho at Tokyo will be four ex-college wrestlers, one foreigner, and three Juryo returnees. This large flux of new, and returning, talent into the Juryo division is due in part to the number of lower Juryo wrestlers that were unable to post a winning record at Osaka in March, thereby dropping down to the Makushita division.

Kokkai (Ms1e) was very close to getting promoted to Juryo after this year's Hatsu basho, where he had won a nine-way playoff to take the Makushita title. It took him just one more tourney as a sumotori and his 5-2 result to become the first European to reach sekitori. Kokkai debuted in sumo only 2 years ago at maezumo. He is a member of Oitekaze beya, home of sekitori Hayateumi and Hamanishiki.

Nakao (Ms11e) earned his promotion to Juryo by having a perfect 7-0 record at the Osaka basho. Two years ago at the Natsu basho, he had debuted at the Makuuchi division, when is shikona was Wakatsutomu, consequently he is still working at getting back to the top division. He is a former member of the Chuo University sumo team that included Dejima, Takakaze, Tamakasuga and Toyokuni. Nakao entered sumo with Matsugane beya back in November 1995. Nakao's stable mates include Wakakosho and Harunoyama.

Tanaka (Ms5w) reaches the paid ranks after 5 years in sumo. He has changed his shikona to Kaito, along with changing his mawashi from cotton to silk. He is an ex-college sumo wrestler who posted 5-2 record at Osaka. He and Kaio are Tomozuma stable's only two sekitori.

Uchida (Ms4w) of Dewanoumi beya debuted at Makushita tsukedashi only four months ago. He is debuting in the Juryo division with a new fighting name, Futeno. At the Hatsu basho, he was close to be coming the first tsukedashi ever to compile a 7-0 record in his first tournament, which would have resulted in an automatic promotion to Juryo. He did have one defeat in January, giving him a 6-1 record. Subsequently it has taken him two tourneys to reach Juyro, with his 2nd 6-1 result in a row at Osaka. If he could somehow continue to lose just one bout per basho, he would reach Makuuchi by the next basho held in Tokyo this September. Futeno is Dewanoumi Oyakata's 4th sekitori, in addition to Kinkaiyama, Oginishiki and Dewanofuji.

The tsukedashi ranking can be a bit confusing. A potential candidate must be 1) 20-24 years old; 2) have either finished in the top 16 at the All Japan Championship Tournament; or 3) have won one of three tournaments: National College Championship Tournament, National Athletic Meet Mature A Group, or All Japan Industrial League Championship; or 4) placed 3rd or better in two or more of the three tournaments. The tournament results must be within 2 years before applying for the tsukedashi rank.

Toyozakura (Ms2e) from Michinoku stable put together a 5-2 result to limit his visit back behind the curtain to just one tourney. Before the Osaka basho, Toyoza had spend 4 consecutive tournaments in Juryo. He joins his stable mate Jumonji in the paid ranks.

Sumanofuji (Ms2w) should squeak into paid rank with a 4-3 result. Sumonofuji is a member of Nakamura stable, and their only wrestler in front of the curtain.

Masutsuyoshi (Ms4e) should be another lucky 4-3 wrester to step in front of the curtain, thanks again to the 6 wrestlers to be demoted from Juryo. Matsu belongs to Mihogaseki beya. He will be his stable's solitary sekitori.

It took Hidenokuni (J13w) 13 years to reach the Juryo division and he only lasted one tournament as a sekitori, managing merely 5 wins in March. Kitazakura (J10e) won only 5 bouts as well, sending him down to Makushita. He will be changing places behind the curtain with his brother, Toyozakura, who is a sekitori for the Natsu basho. Another sekitori stepping behind the curtain is Juzan (J11w), who managed just 2 wins. Kotonomine (J13e) returns to Makushita with 6 wins in March. Wakatenro (J12w) finished 0-2-13 and Tomikaze (J12e) won 6 bouts, making him a sumotori this tourney.

Kawika ©

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