Monday, December 22, 2008

Behind the Curtain - January 2009

This New Year’s Basho will only introduce one wrestler to his first time appearance in front of the curtain, unlike this time last year when a total of five wrestlers were first-time wearers of the silk mawashi. In addition to our debutant, there is a returnee to the paid ranks this tourney as well.

Kotokuni (Ms10e) racked up a perfect record of 7-0 to guarantee his promotion to Juryo in 2009. Kotokuni has taken his sweet own time to make it to sekitori, 15 years of struggling through the ranks. During this time he was tsukebito for 8 different sekitori, all the time asking himself, “…why can’t I make?” It took him 89 tournaments to reach the paid ranks, which is the 2nd slowest rise to juryo ever. From the beginning of post war sumo, at 30 years old, Kotokuni is the 6th oldest wrestler promoted to sekitori. Kotokuni also marks the first sekitori for Sadogatake-beya, since former Kotonowaka took over the stable 3 years ago.

Asofuji (Ms1e) was only defeated on the first day one of the Fukaoka basho, giving him a strong 6-1 record. Asofuji is the older brother of sekitori Aminishiki. Unlike his younger brother, who has stayed put in makuuchi for the past 8 years, Asofuji has made a career of getting promoted to juryo, this is his 6th promotion to the paid ranks! In the last 5 tournaments, he has been promoted to juryo 3 times! This is somewhat of a record, this is only the 4th time this has happened since sumo switch to a six-basho a year calendar. Asofuji’s first time wearing the silk mawashi was way back at the September 2003 tourney.

With a first time wrestler stepping out from behind the curtain and an “elevator” sekitori joining him, these means we got two wrestlers stepping behind the curtain to start out the year of the cow.

Sagatsukasa (J12e) started the Fukaoka basho by losing 6 straight bouts, making it incredibly hard to put together a winning record. To finish the tourney, he lost 4 of the last 5 days to result in a 5-10 record and a demotion to makushita. Saga first entered the paid ranks November 2007, and with the exception of the January tourney, fought 5 basho in the paid ranks. We can expect to see him back in the silk mawashi later in 2009, perhaps as soon as the Osaka basho.

Ryuo (J10e) is someone you might recall from his one-basho debut in makuuchi at this year’s Osaka basho. Since that appearance in makuuchi, he has been spinning down the banzuke ladder. Ryuo could only win twice in the first 12 days of the Fukaoka basho, making is extremely likely he would have to put his silk mawashi away for 2009. With his demotion, the number of Mongolian sekitori will drop to 13 wrestlers.