Part 2 in our series to give you a little background on some of the potential rising stars in the sumo world. Remember the first basho of the new year starts January 8th 2012!!! Enjoy!
GOEIDO “LOST POTENTIAL?”
Goeido started out with so much potential. As a member of his High School sumo club he won 11 bashos and in the 2004 All Japan Sumo competition he finished in the top four (being the only High School aged competitor in the basho). After two years since his debut, Goeido exploded onto the Maegashira ranking with an impressive 11-4 record causing many to believe he will be the future leader of Japanese sumo rikishi. Unfortunately Goeido struggled for the next two years. After being one of 12 rikishi to be suspended due to gambling on baseball, Goeido came back with a vengeance scoring a career best 12-3 at the November 2010 basho (granted at a low rank of Maegashira #14) but he followed that up with a 11-4 record at the January 2011 basho at Maegashira #5. At the May 2011 basho at Maegashira #1, Goeido scored a 11-4 record and the Technique sansho as well as returned to the sanyaku ranks (the first time in nearly 2 years). Unfortunatly Goeido did not do well at all being back at Komosubi, scoring a 5-10 record in the July 2011 basho and is now ranked at Maegashira #2 for the January 2012 basho. Many site Goeido’s lack of focus during training to be his downfall and at times sloppy performances.
TAKAYASU “THE GREAT HAPA HYPE?”
Takayasu is one of the few hapas in the sumo world (hapa being half asian mixed heritage. Takayasu is half Japanese and half Filipino), but it was the fact that he debuted at nearly six feet tall and 300 lbs at the age of 15 that had the sumo world buzzing! After winning his debut basho in the lower ranking makushita division, Takayasu nearly made it back to back yusho wins by making it to the playoffs in his debut Juryo basho (he would lose the playoff). After only three bashos in the top Maegashira division he has quickly made his way up to the rank of Maegashira #3 and is knocking on the door of the sanyaku ranks. Takayasu is one of the rare few rikishi to use his real name instead of adopting a shikona (or wrestling name). Again due to his size, power and speed he is looked at as being a future Yokozuna candidate, and the first to be a hapa.
HOMASHO “ANOTHER FADED STAR?”
Upon entering the world of pro sumo, Homasho skyrocketed through the ranks into Maegashira without ever suffering a losing record (a record tied with former Yokozuna Akebono and current Ozeki Kotooshu). In his debut Maegashira basho, Homasho suffered his first losing record of 6-9 but later that year at the November 2006 basho scored a career best 12-3 record. Since then Homasho has gained little success with many believing he was now a lost star. In 2009 Homasho bounced back with back to back 11-4 records earning him his highest ranking at the time of Maegashira #1. Unfortunately Maegashira #1 proved to be too high of a ranking for Homasho and ended up posting a very humiliating 1-14 record. Struggling over the next few years Homasho posted an impressive 11-4 record at the July 2011 basho and then a 10-4 record at the Septemeber 2011 basho which earned him highest rank of Komosubi! Again Homasho could not deal with such a high rank and registered a very low 4-11 record earning him a demotion to Maegashira #4 for this upcoming January 2012 basho. Many believe that Homasho lacks confidance in his skills, and succumbs to pressure easily. He has shown brilliant technique as well as power and skill but can he ever get over the mental hump and become a superstar or as he already missed his prime?
TOCHINOWAKA “KOREAN WARRIOR”
Tochinowaka is one of the biggest rikishi in sumo today (standing at 6’5” and weighing over 400 lbs). He is Korean but born in Japan to Zainichi parents (Koreans who have become Japanese nationalist, usually changing their names and adopting Japanese culture. Many famous Japanese athletes are actually Zainichi including Koji Kanemoto and Karateka Masutatsu Oyama). After studying Judo in high school, Tochinowaka decided to try sumo in his second year and became a highschool Yokozuna. After starting his professional sumo career in 2007, Tochinowaka struggled to make it to the makuuchi division until he broke through by the end of 2010, debuting in Juryo. By 2011 Tochinowaka entered into the Maegashira division and has quickly worked his way up to Maegashira #4 ranking.
MYOGIRYU “THE DRAGON OF MANY SKILLS”
Myogiryu is a young Japanese rikishi that has the world of sumo buzzing right now. After starting his sumo career at a very young age (elementary school!) Myogiryu would compete in several high school bashos even coming into second place in one of them to his future rival Goeido. Becoming a pro in 2009, Myogiryu started off hot scoring four straight 5-2 records in the lower divison of Makushita (those below Juryo only fight for 7 days instead of the full 15) which earned him a quick debut at Juryo in the January 2010 basho. Unfortunately in only his third match at Juryo, Myogiryu would blow out his knee and would be forced to sit out of the next three bashos, also causing him to slide way down the banzuke. Upon his return to the dohyo in September 2010, Myogiryu would go a perfect 7-0 at Sandanme (losing the yusho in a playoff), he would then win the Makushita division in his next basho and soon be promoted back to Juryo at the July 2011 basho. Back in Juryo Myogiryu would go on to win back to back Juryo yushos ( a very rare feat) which then earned him a slot intot he Maegashira division at the November 2011 basho. In that basho Myogiryu would turn in a very impressive 10-5 record and the skies are limits to this nova and possible future Japanese Yokozuna. Myogiryu’s shikona means “Dragon of many talents”.
AOIYAMA “THE NEXT BULGARIAN SENSATION?”
After participating in amateur sumo for three years in his native country of Bulgaria, Aoiyama was invited to Japan by his fellow countryman, Ozeki Kotooshu becoming the second Bulgarian rikishi. Upon his debut in 2009, Aoiyama had 16 straight wins winning back to back Jonokuchi yushos. After winning the Makushita division in the 2010 March basho, Aoiyama’s progress slowed considerabley. It wont be until 2011 that Aoiyama would debut in Juryo and after a 10-3-2 record (he had to back out of the basho for 2 days due to injury) at the September basho, he would make his Maegashira debut. In that debut Aoiyama looked fierce going 11-4 and winning the Fighting Spirit award, his first sansho. With his size (6’3” and 350 lbs) and strength, many are comparing Aoiyama to his Bulgarian counterpart Kotooshu, which means he could have the potential for big things in the future.
GAGAMARU “GENTLEMAN GAGA”
Gagamaru is the third Georgian rikishi to make the top divison (behind Kokkai and Tochinoshin) and is definitely the biggest (weighing in at 440lbs!). Starting in Judo and Sambo, Gagamaru was invited by the Georgian junior sumo team to join them in the 2005 World Junior Sumo championships in Osaka (also on the team was Tochinoshin). Gagagmaru agreed to go and ended up placing third in the Championship! He decided to stay in Japan and debuted in 2005 as a professional. After a sucesfful first year, Gagamaru received news that his father died in a car accident. In his honor Gagamaru decided he would NOT return to his home in Georgia until he reached sekitori status (or basically receiving a salary which only Juryo and above ranked rikishi get). Gagamaru accomplished this in 2009 and word is he sends a monthly check to his mother back home. After winning the Juryo yusho in the January 2010 basho, Gagamaru debuted in Maegashira at the July 2010 basho but would have a horrible debut only scoring 5 wins. In the follow up basho Gagamaru was able to achevie 10 wins to stay at maegashira and hasn’t slipped out yet. Recently though he scored a 11-4 record at the Septemeber 2011 basho as well as winning his first sansho for Fighting Technique BUT the followup basho he scored a very sad 2-13 record. With his size, Gagamaru is a force to be reckon with BUT at times he can be very slow and easy to trip up. Gagamaru’s name comes from his real life nickname of Gaga (his real name is Jugheli) which his stablemaster turned into Gagamaru. In a recent interview Gagamaru quips that he was called Gaga way before Lady Gaga came around.
TAKANOYAMA “THE LIGHTEST RIKISHI”
Yes Takanoyama is a sumo wrestler. Right he doesn’t look like one and at 220 lbs, he is one of the lightest but its his skill and power that has lead to his success. The first and only Czech Republican rikishi, Takanoyama started in judo before making the switch to sumo (which is very popular in the Czech). After winning a bronze medal in the 2000 Junior World Sumo Games, Takanoyama moved to Japan to start his pro career. After a quick start, Takanoyama got stuck in Makushita for about six years due to his small stature. Finally in 2011 Takanoyama made it to Juryo where he crushed the competition with a 10-5 record and became only the third rikishi to ever pass through Juryo to Maegashira in ONE basho. He also became the first rikishi under 100 kilograms to enter the Maegashira rankings since the legendary Mainoumi (who was only 5’7” and 220lbs throughout his sumo career) in 1997. In his first Maegashira basho the size difference was too much for Takanoyama who scored a sad 5-10 record and dropped back down to Juryo. In the December 2011 basho, Takanoyama was able to do better at 9-6 and is now back at Maegashira #14. Takanoyama is quickly becoming a fan favorite due to his size and impressive technical abilities (he has some of the most amazing leg trips). However his size is a detriment, especially because he does like fighting opponents head on. Also Takanoyama recently was involved in a scandal where he willingly injected himself with an illegal insulin, which he was warned by the Sumo Association for.
KAISEI “THE BRAZILIAN BEAST”
Kaisei is the first brazilian born rikishi to reach the top divison (the fourth to reach Juryo). After debuting in Maegashira with an impressive 10-5 record as well as winning his first sansho for Fighting Spirit, Kaisei has tapered off some with three consecutive kachikoshi bashos (one of them beign a very bad 4-11). Kaisei is near the bottom of the Maegashira division at Maegashira #16 and can teeter back to Juryo if he is not careful.