In continuation in our quest to provide you with everything you need to know about Sumo before the first basho of the year on January 8th, here is a list of some of the up and coming rikishi to keep an eye out for in 2012! Enjoy!
KAKURYU “THE NEXT MONGOLIAN YOKOZUNA?”
Unlike his fellow Mongolian compatriots, Kakuryu had no sumo/wrestling experience before coming to Japan. In his debut, Kakuryu only weighed 180lbs but with time he started putting on the weight as he slowly rose through the ranks. After five years, Kakuryu finally made it to Maegashira but he didn’t do anything impressive, winning at most 9 wins at any basho. In 2008 Kakuryu finally exploded with a career best 11-4 record at the January basho which included wins over all five of the Ozekis at the time. Unfortunately a knee injury would cause Kakuryu to sputter near the top of the Maegashira rankings until the March 2009 basho where he would earn a 10-5 record and his first promotion to Komosubi. In the July 2009 basho, Kakuryu debuted at Sekiwake, the first of his stable to earn that rank. He would flounder in his Sekiwake debut with a 5-10 record but would bounce back with a impressive 11-4 record at the next basho earning another shot at Sekiwake. The following few bashos were ups and downs for Kakuryu before scoring a career best 12-3 record at the May 2011 basho and earning his sixth Technique prize. A followup score of 10-5 at the rank of Sekiwake made many talk about a possible ozeki promotion for Kakuryu but unfortunately at the September 2011 basho he came 2 wins short of the “required” 33. Recently Kakuryu finished another strong 10-5 record at the November 2011 basho and is looking to start another round of Ozeki talks in 2012. Due to his smaller size, Kakuryu is a fan favorite reminding many that it doesn’t matter about the size of the rikishi but about the size of the fight in them.
TOYONOSHIMA “FUTURE JAPANESE STAR?”
Toyonoshima started sumo in Jr High and High School where he would clash with future rival Ozeki, Kotoshogiku. When Toyonoshima applied to be a pro he was considered too short and did not meet the original sumo height requirement (5’6”) but after further tests of his sumo abilities, he was able to apply. After only 2 years from his debut, Toyonoshima made Juryo, and within three years after that he made Makuuchi. After some struggle, Toyonoshima found much success in 2007 when he finished as runner up in the January basho with a record of 12-3 earning both Fighting Spirit and Technique prizes. In the following March basho Toyonoshima defeated both Ozeki Kotooshu and recent retiree Chiyotaikai, earning him promotion to komosubi. Unfortunately due to a knee injury, Toyonoshima wasn’t able to capitalize on his komosubi ranking and ended that basho with a 4-11 record, dropping him back to makuuchi. In the September basho though, Toyonoshima came roaring back being the first maegashira to ever defeat Hakuho after he became Yokozuna as well as scoring wins over Ozeki Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki. In July 2008, Toyonoshima defeated Yokozuna Assashoryu for the first time and finished with a record of 10-5 earning him promotion to Sekiwake. After only one basho at Sekiwake, where he had a poor record of 6-9, Toyonoshima would struggle in the upper ranks of Maegashira. In 2010, Toyonoshima would be one of about a dozen rikishi to be suspended for admitting to gambling on baseball (which in Japan is illegal) and was demoted to Juryo. In the Sept 2010 basho, Tyonoshima took the opportunity tobe at Juryo and win his second Juryo basho, five years after he did that the first time. He would follow this performance with a stellar performance to end 2010 by going 14-1 and facing off against Hakuho in a yusho playoff. Unfortunately Toyonoshima would lose to Hakuho in the playoff but would be given BOTH the Fighting spirit and Technique prize for his efforts. 2011 was a slow year for Toyonoshima would not be able to score double digit wins that entire year but still did enough to start 2012 at Sekiwake. Toyonoshima has a lot of potential, and many fans believe he may have the abilities to be a future Japanese Yokozuna.
WAKAKORYU “YOUNG NOVA”
After struggling for nine years to make it to the Maegashira rankings, Wakakoryu has made up for lost time by making it into the Komosubi ranking four years after his debut in Juryo. In the November 2011 basho, Wakakoryu looked like a monster scoring a very impressive 12-3 record at Maegashira 9 as well as earning his first sansho prize, the Fighting Spirit award. He is definitely a guy to watch in 2012.
OKINOUMI “JAPAN’S FUTURE?”
Making his maegashira debut in March 2010, Okinoumi was the first rikishi to enter the Maegashira ranking from the prefecture of Shimane in 88 years. Unfortunately in the July basho, Okinoumi was one of a dozen rikishi to admit to illegally betting on baseball and was demoted to Juryo. In the January 2011 basho, after working his way back up to Maegashira, Okinoumi had a career best 11-4 record as well as earned his first sansho, the Fighting Spirit award. By September of 2011 Okinoumi reached the highest he has ever been on the banzuke at Maegashira #1 but has stuttered since then. Many Japanese fans are looking at the young Okinoumi to have a banner 2012 year.