Saturday, December 22, 2007

Behind the Curtain - January 2008

What could be more appropriate for the New Year’s Basho but for all 5 wrestlers stepping out from Behind the Curtain to be their first time to the paid ranks! Yes, all 5 wrestlers are Shin-juyro, all new faces to Juryo.

Kimurayama (Ms1w, 6-1) took his time at stepping out from behind the curtain when you consider he entered sumo from college at the 2004 Osaka basho, meaning he started just under makushita 15, yet still needed almost 4 years to get to Juryo. He is older than Tochinoshin and Tochiozan, stating that he did want to be passed by any more of the younger guys in his stable.

Tochinoshin (Ms1e, 5-2) on the other hand only needed 11 tournaments to get to wear the silk mawashi. He had to cancel a post-basho trip home to the Republic of Georgia cause of the unrest there. When he called his mum to tell her the news, all she did was cry.

Kasugano Oyakata isn’t crying, if anything he is probably still smiling that two his sumotori, Kimurayama and Tochinoshin, got promoted to Juryo simultaneously. Kasugano joked that he was going to run out of tsukebito for the sekitori, along with sumotori to make the chako. With Kimurayama and Tochinoshin stepping up the banzuke, Kasugano Okayata now has 6 sekitori in his stable.

Tamawashi (Ms2w, 4-3) is yet another Mongolian to reach sekitori. Along with Tochinoshin, the number of foreigners in the paid ranks is now 21, a new record, but we can be fairly sure it will be broken again, especially with all the strong foreigners lurking in the higher makushita ranks. Tamawashi was quoted as saying “I want to get to makuuchi as soon as possible.” He debuted on the dohyo exactly 4 years ago, maybe he only needs one more year to get there.

Kirinowaka (Ms4w, 5-2) took a very long road to get out from behind the curtain, 8 ½ years. Michinoku Oyakata says he took his sweet time and Kirinowaka strongly agrees, “I guess I was never burning with the desire to succeed.” It wasn’t until his stablemates Wakakirin and Chiyohakuho got promoted to juryo did he get angry and, more importantly, motivated to reach the paid ranks.

Yakigaya (Ms3w, 4-3) debuted on the dohyo the same basho as Kirinowaka at Osaka in 1999. Now they are debuting as sekitori at the same tourney this New Year. Yakigaya can be found on the banzuke under his new shikona, Wakakoyu, in honor of his promotion.

It is somewhat unusual for two wrestlers to debut in sumo together then later debut as sekitori together. It did happen last New Year’s, when Satoyama and Homasho stepped out from behind the curtain togeher. They had first stepped on the dohyo at Osaka in 2004.