Monday, September 1, 2014

Behind the Curtain - September 2014

September takes us to the last basho in the Kanto area for 2014, as the last tournament at Kokugikan we will see 4 rikishi make their return appearances in front of the curtain!  

Makushita East 3 Wakakoyu from Onomatsu stable squeaked out a 4-3 record in Nagoya to keep his visit behind the curtain limited to just the one basho.  Here is a sekitori who was Komusubi only 2 years ago!  Wakakoyu is from Funabashi in Chiba perfecture.  His shikona uses the last two kanji characters from his stablemaster, Onomatsu, the former Sekiwake Masurao.  Two years after Wakakoyu’s birth in Funabashi, his father was killed in a car accident and he was subsequently raised alone by his mother. With Ōnomatsu stable being very near the home of one of his relatives, he began visiting the stable from a young age. This eventually led to him entering the stable in 1999.  Wakakoyu can be found at Juryo West 14 this month.  
Makushita East 4 Kitaharima from Kitanoumi stable posted a nice 5-2 record last tournament.  He stepped in front of the curtain the first time at the same time as when Wakakoyu was ranked at Komusubi.  Lanky Kitaharima has not made it beyond Juryo, yet.  Kitaharima will be ranked at Juryo West 12 this basho.

Makushita West 2 Yoshiazuma from Tamanoi stable notched a respectable 5-2 record at the July tournament.  He hails from Kashima in Kumamoto prefecture.  He entered sumo New Year’s basho 1996 and finally stepped in front of the curtain at the Fukaoka basho in 2007.  In his early years he was more interested in soccer, and was a member of the kendō team in middle school. He started sumo in high school, and in his third year contributed to his team taking the championship in a national tournament. He chose to join Tamanoi stable when he graduated high school.  We can expected him to continue to fight in the silk mawashi for awhile.  Yoshiazuma is now be the third-oldest rikishi to earn promotion to Juryo in the post-WW2 era.  Note that he was already fourth or fifth on that list from his previous promotions.  Yoshiazuma is found at Juryo West 11 on this tournament’s banzuke.

Makushita East 1 Sakigake from Shibatayama stable posted an impressive 6-1 record at the last tournament.  He started this year making his debut in the silk mawashi, then stepping behind the curtain, then back in paid ranks, then back to the cotton mawashi, and this tournament, for a 3rd time in one year, back in Juryo.  Wow, what a roller coaster year he has had.   He becomes only the 10th rikishi ever to be promoted to Juryo 3 times within 5 tournaments.  Note, one of this writer’s favorites, Yamato, also did this between January 1995 and November 1995.  Sakigake got to kachikoshi on Day 7 at Nagoya, basically guaranteeing his return to Juryo. In addition, he also eliminated the last remaining zensho contender in the extended promotion zone (Iwasaki).  Sakigake will be ranked at Juryo East 10 this time in the paid ranks.