Musashiyama Takeshi was a sumo wrestler from Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. He was the sport's 33rd yokozuna, he had a rapid rise through the ranks, setting several youth records, was popular with the public. However he did not fulfill his great potential at sumo's highest rank, missing many matches because of injury and winning no tournaments. Born in Kohoku ward, he came from a poor peasant family, he entered local sumo tournaments to provide for them, he was scouted by the former Ryōgoku Yūjirō. Musashiyama made his professional debut in January 1926, he was far superior to his early opponents, becoming an elite sekitori at the age of just 19. He reached the top makuuchi division in May 1929, was runner-up in his second makuuchi tournament, he reached the san'yaku ranks at komusubi in May 1930. His rapid rise was considered miraculous in an era when it was not unusual for new recruits to take several years to progress from the lowest jonokuchi division, he missed out on the yūshō or tournament championship in March 1931 only because he was of a lower rank than Tamanishiki, who finished with the same score..
However, he won what was to be his only top division championship the next tournament in May 1931. A lean and handsome wrestler, Musashiyama was popular with tournament crowds, his picture sold more copies than any other wrestler. Fighting alongside other popular rikishi such as Tamanishiki and his stable mate, sekiwake Tenryū, Musashiyama was expected to become a figurehead of the sumo world for years to come. Two major events, had a severe impact on his career, he injured his right elbow in the October 1931 tournament, which reduced his power and never healed properly. In January 1932 he was promoted from komusubi to ōzeki, but in the same month Tenryū and many other top wrestlers went on strike against the Japan Sumo Association, demanding reform of the organization, in what was to become known as the Shunjuen Incident. Musashiyama was criticized for his lukewarm support of the strike, but he never felt close to Tenryū's group. In addition, several people insisted that the reason for Tenryū's walkout was Tenryū's jealousy of Musashiyama's fast promotion to ōzeki while he remained at sekiwake.
Musashiyama had been considering giving up sumo altogether and turning to boxing instead, but decided to stay in the Sumo Association. He was promoted to yokozuna after finishing as runner-up in the May tournament that year, he had had good scores in the previous two tournaments as well, had never had a make-koshi or losing score in his career. His promotion at that point came as a surprise, it was suggested that it had been engineered by the Takasago ichimon or stable group, so that Musashiyama's Dewanoumi group would be obliged to support the promotion of Minanogawa in return. Musashiyama proved to be one of the least successful yokozuna ever, he was absent from tournaments because of his elbow injury and did not win any further championships. He was so popular that he was always in demand to perform on regional tours, had a chance to recuperate properly from his injury. In his eight tournaments at yokozuna rank, he missed five, withdrew from two, only managed one kachi-koshi or winning score.
In his only kachi-koshi tournament, he faced yokozuna Minanogawa in a battle of two 6–6 yokozuna, he defeated Minanogawa, which resulted in his opponent having a make-koshi, a rare result for a yokozuna. He retired at the age of 29 without achieving any lasting success as a yokozuna, in May 1939, he had long been overshadowed by Futabayama at the peak of his career. He remained in the sumo world for a time as a coach, was known as Dekiyama and Shiranui Oyakata. However, he left the Sumo Association in 1945, he tried his hand at farming, running a restaurant and operating a pachinko parlour in Tokyo, before returning to his home town to work in the real estate business. He died in 1969, his son became a sumo wrestler at Dewanoumi stable but did not rise higher than the makushita division. In 1927 Tokyo and Osaka sumo merged and four tournaments a year in Tokyo and other locations began to be held. Glossary of sumo terms List of past sumo wrestlers List of sumo tournament top division champions List of sumo tournament second division champions List of yokozuna
Makuuchi or makunouchi, is the top division of the six divisions of professional sumo. Its size is fixed at 42 wrestlers, ordered into five ranks according to their ability as defined by their performance in previous tournaments; this is the only division, featured on NHK's standard live coverage of sumo tournaments. The lower divisions are shown on their satellite coverage, with only the makuuchi broadcast having bilingual English commentary. Makuuchi means "inside the curtain", a reference to the early period of professional sumo, when there was a curtained-off area reserved for the top ranked wrestlers, to sit before appearing for their bouts. Wrestlers are considered for promotion or demotion in rank before each grand tournament according to their performance in the one previous. A greater number of wins than losses results in a promotion, the reverse results in demotion. There are stricter criteria for promotion to the top two ranks, which are privileged when considered for demotion. At the top fixed positions of the division are the, "titleholder" or san'yaku ranks of yokozuna, ōzeki and komusubi.
There are 8–12 san'yaku wrestlers, with the remainder, called maegashira, ranked in numerical order from 1 downwards. San'yaku means "the three ranks" though it comprises four ranks; the discrepancy arose because the yokozuna was traditionally regarded as an ōzeki with a special license to wear a particular rope around his waist and perform a distinctive ring entry ceremony. In modern use san'yaku has a somewhat flexible definition; this is because the top two ranks of yokozuna and ōzeki have distinctive differences from the lower two ranks and from each other. Therefore, a reference to san'yaku can sometimes mean only the bottom three ranks, or in other cases only sekiwake and komusubi. There must be at least one sekiwake and komusubi on each side of the banzuke two total, but there may be more. Although there is a yokozuna there is no requirement for one, it has sometimes happened that no active yokozuna or no ōzeki were listed in the ranks. If there is more than one yokozuna but only one ōzeki, the lower rank will be filled out by designating one of the yokozuna as yokozuna-ōzeki.
There is no recorded instance of there being ōzeki in total. There are a number of responsibilities associated with the san ` yaku ranks. Any wrestler who reaches one of them is entitled to purchase one of the membership shares in the Japan Sumo Association, regardless of the total number of tournaments they have spent in the top makuuchi division, they may be called on to represent all sumo wrestlers on certain occasions. For example, when the president of the Sumo Association makes a formal speech on the opening and closing days of a tournament, he is flanked by all the san'yaku wrestlers in their mawashi, they may be called to assist in welcoming a VIP, such as the Emperor, to the arena. The san'yaku can be split into two groups: The senior yokozuna and ōzeki, junior sekiwake and komusubi; the former group have special promotion criteria and higher salaries, have additional perks such as a higher number of junior wrestlers to assist them, an entitlement to park in the Sumo Association compound and voting rights in the election for Association directors.
Senior yokozuna and ōzeki have added responsibilities. They are expected to represent wrestler views to the Association, assist in advertising events and meet event sponsors; the latter group and komusubi, have lesser responsibilities and are still eligible for one of the three special prizes, or sanshō that are awarded for exceptional performance at the end of each tournament. Yokozuna is the highest rank in sumo; the name means "horizontal rope" and comes from the most visible symbol of their rank, the rope worn around the waist. The rope is similar to the shimenawa used to mark off sacred areas in Shinto, like the shimenawa it serves to purify and mark off its content; the rope, which may weigh up to 20 kilograms, is not used during the matches themselves, but is worn during the yokozuna's dohyo-iri ring entrance ceremony. As the sport's biggest stars, yokozuna are in many ways the public face of sumo and the way they conduct themselves is scrutinized, as it is seen as reflecting on the image of sumo as a whole.
As of January 2017, a total of 72 sumo wrestlers have earned the rank of yokozuna. The birth of the rank of yokozuna is unclear, there are two competing legends. According to one, a 9th-century wrestler named Hajikami tied a shimenawa around his waist as a handicap and dared any to touch it, creating sumo as it is now known in the process. According to the other, legendary wrestler Akashi Shiganosuke tied the shimenawa around his waist in 1630 as a sign of respect when visiting the Emperor, was posthumously awarded the title for the first time. There is little supporting evidence for either theory—in fact, it is not certain that Akashi existed—but it is known that by November 1789, yokozuna starting from the fourth yokozuna Tanikaze Kajinosuke and the fifth yokozuna Onogawa Kisaburō were depicted in ukiyo-e prints as wearing the shimenawa; these two wrestlers were both awarded yokozuna licences by the prominent Yoshida family. Before the Meiji Era, the title yokozuna was conferred on ōzeki who performed sumo in front of the shōgun.
This privilege was more determined by a wrestler's patron having sufficient influence rather than purely on the ability and dignity of the wrestler. Thus there are a number of early wrestlers. In these early days yokozuna was not re
Akinoumi Setsuo, born Setsuo Nagata, was a sumo wrestler from Hiroshima, Japan. He was the sport's 37th yokozuna. Akinoumi made his professional debut in February 1932 and reached the top makuuchi division in January 1938, he was the man who ended Futabayama's record 69 bout winning streak in January 1939. As he was only ranked as a maegashira at the time, it was regarded as an enormous upset, he defeated the yokozuna by an outer leg trip. He had practiced this technique in training with Komanosato, Futabayama's 69th and final defeated opponent, he was overwhelmed by his achievement, but was told by his stablemaster, "Become a rikishi not to be praised when he wins but to cause an uproar when he loses."His only top division championship came in May 1940 when he was ranked as a sekiwake. He earned promotion to yokozuna in May 1942 after two runner-up performances. Akinoumi was not a successful yokozuna, lasting only eight tournaments at the rank and not managing to win any further championships.
He is arguably better remembered for his victory over Futabayama than his exploits as a grand champion. Akinoumi retired in November 1946, became an elder of the Sumo Association with the name of Fujishima, he married the daughter of Dewanoumi Oyakata, the former yokozuna Tsunenohana, but was unfaithful to her, his geisha mistress giving birth the same day that his wife did. They were divorced; this put an end to any hopes of becoming the head of Dewanoumi stable, he left the sumo world in January 1955. He remarried, he ran a chanko restaurant, when that went out of business, a clothing store. He appeared as a sumo commentator on broadcasts of tournaments, he celebrated his 60th birthday in 1974 but for reasons which are unclear, did not get to perform the kanreki dohyō-iri ceremony. He died in 1979 of congestive heart failure. Through most of the 1930s and 1940s only two tournaments were held a year, in 1946 only one was held. Glossary of sumo terms List of past sumo wrestlers List of sumo tournament top division champions List of yokozuna Japan Sumo Association profile
A sekitori is a rikishi, ranked in one of the top two professional divisions: makuuchi and jūryō. The name translates to having taken the barrier, as only a small fraction of those who enter professional sumo achieve sekitori status. There are 70 rikishi in these divisions; the benefits of being a sekitori compared to lower ranked wrestlers are significant and include: to receive a salary and bonus to have one's own supporters' club to wear high quality men's kimono and other items of attire to have a private room in the training stable to be able to get married and live away from the training stable to have junior rikishi to act as their personal servants to wear a silk mawashi with stiffened cords in tournament bouts to participate in the ring entrance ceremony and wear a keshō-mawashi to wear the more elaborate ōichō chonmage hairstyle in competition and on formal occasions to become an elder in the Sumo Association if one is sekitori for long enough The item of memorabilia most associated with sumo wrestling is tegata.
Only sekitori are allowed to make them for fans. They could be equated to the sumo version of an autograph. Tegata consist of a print of a wrestler's hand using black or red ink accompanied by his ring name written in calligraphic style by the wrestler himself. Original tegata are given out to members of one's supporter club. Printed copies of tegata can be bought inexpensively; when a wrestler achieves sekitori status, he is allowed to have a fan/supporter club called a kōenkai if he has enough popularity. This is in addition to kōenkai associated with his sumo stable; these clubs pool their money to buy the wrestler such items as his decorative apron called a keshō-mawashi. For their support, supporter club members expect and receive access to the wrestlers and are given invitations to post-tournament parties and other events where they will have direct contact with them
Towanoyama Yoshimitsu is a former sumo wrestler from Toshima, Japan. He made his professional debut in 1993, his highest rank was maegashira 13, achieved in March 2002. He had many injury problems and had the unluckiest top makuuchi division career of any wrestler in sumo, being injured before fighting a match in the division, he is the only wrestler since the beginning of the Shōwa era in 1926 to have been ranked in the top division without winning any bouts there. Towanoyama made his professional debut in November 1993, joining Dewanoumi stable straight from high school. At the time Dewanoumi stable was strong and he had many powerful training partners, he served as a personal attendant to such top division men as Kushimaumi and Oginishiki. In March 1999 he won the makushita division championship with a perfect 7-0 record and earned promotion to the second highest jūryō division, becoming an elite sekitori wrestler, he suffered an injury to his right ankle which required surgery and affected his performances, resulting in demotion back to makushita after only four tournaments.
However, in May 2001 he returned to the second division. A strong 11-4 record in January 2002 earned him promotion to the top makuuchi division, alongside Shimotori. At the time Towanoyama was the heaviest Japanese wrestler in sumo, weighing over 200 kilograms, he was the highest ranked wrestler in his stable and was able to use his immense weight to good advantage. However, on the day of his first match in the top division in March 2002, he injured his knee in training and was forced to pull out of the tournament without participating in a single bout; this was to prove to be his only top division tournament. After winning only five bouts in the next tournament he fell to makushita once again, he was able to return to the jūryō division in November 2003, but on the tenth day of the March 2004 tournament, whilst trying to force a throwing move against Wakakosho, he fell badly and tore his patella tendon. He was hospitalised for four months, he missed five consecutive tournaments, which meant he fell in rank, ending up in the second lowest jonidan division.
After rehabilitation and weight training programs Towanoyama returned to the ring in March 2005 and made his way back up the rankings, but never managed to regain sekitori status. A 6-1 score in May 2008 moved him up to Makushita 6 for July, his highest ranking since his 2004 injury, he produced a 5-2 score there, putting him on the brink of promotion back to jūryō, he was called up to face a jūryō opponent, Kaiho, in the following tournament - his first match against a sekitori in 27 basho. However, after two losing scores he slid down the makushita division again. In 2009 he rebounded again with three consecutive winning records, his results begin to slip however, over a four-year period he dropped in the ranks of makushita being relegated to the lower sandanme division in May 2013, but achieving a winning record in that tournament and the next to gain promotion back to his mainstay of makushita. He announced his retirement after the January 2015 tournament, where he achieved his 500th career win but lost his six other bouts.
He was the first wrestler to be ranked in the top division but not have any makuuchi wins since Kenrokuzan missed his only top division tournament in May 1926, before the Shōwa era. Towanoyama was a yotsu-sumo specialist, preferring grappling techniques to thrusting, his favoured grip on his opponent's mawashi is migi-yotsu, a left hand outside, right hand inside position. His most common winning kimarite was yori-kiri, a straightforward force out, which accounts for about 45 percent of his career victories. Glossary of sumo terms List of past sumo wrestlers Towanoyama Yoshimitsu's official biography at the Grand Sumo Homepage
Hitachiiwa Eitarō was a Japanese sumo wrestler from Tokyo. His highest rank was ōzeki. Born in Chuo, he was coached by former yokozuna Hitachiyama, he made his debut in May 1917, was promoted to the jūryō division in May 1922. After winning the jūryō division championship in January 1923 he reached the top makuuchi division in May 1923. In January 1926, at the rank of maegashira 2, he finished as runner-up to yokozuna Tsunenohana with a fine 10–1 record, his earned him promotion to sekiwake, after two more runner-up performances he was promoted to ōzeki in May 1927. In January 1928, he won his only top division yūshō, or championship, but it caused great controversy. On Day 10, he scored a win by default against Nishinoumi Kajirō III, a no-show for the bout, his rival for the championship, veteran maegashira and former sekiwake Misugiiso, had won all his bouts in actual fights but was defeated by strong komusubi Tamanishiki on the 11th day. At the end of the tournament they both had 10–1 records, as Hitachiiwa had defeated yokozuna Miyagiyama on the final day.
Hitachiiwa and Misugiiso were too far apart in rank to have been paired against each other during the tournament, as there was no playoff system in place at that time, Hitachiiwa, in the higher ōzeki rank was awarded the yūshō. Many people sympathized with Misugiiso. Misugiiso retired a year later; the controversy gathered around the system of keeping score for matches won by default as one wrestler does not appear for their scheduled fight. At the time, only in the last two days of a tournament could a win by default be accepted, there was no formal announcement of the winner by default, so both wrestlers would be scored as not appearing for the match. In the following tournament in March 1928, the modern system was established where the winner by default was scored as a win and not a no-show, as it was in the past. Hitachiiwa fell ill after the dispute and was unable to capitalise on his win, sitting out the March 1928 tournament, he was unable to record good results in his following career and was never in contention for another championship.
He retired in March 1931. He remained in the sumo world as an elder, under the name Sakaigawa, worked as a coach in Dewanoumi stable until his death. In 1927 Tokyo and Osaka sumo merged and four tournaments a year in Tokyo and other locations began to be held. Glossary of sumo terms List of past sumo wrestlers List of sumo tournament top division champions List of sumo tournament second division champions List of ōzeki Japan Sumo Association profile
Professional sumo divisions
Professional sumo is divided into six ranked divisions. Wrestlers are promoted and demoted within and between these divisions based on the merit of their win/loss records in official tournaments. For more information see make-koshi. Wrestlers are ranked within each division; the higher a wrestler's rank within a division is, the stronger the general level of opponents he will have to face becomes. According to tradition, each rank is further subdivided into East and West, with East being more prestigious, ranked higher than its West counterpart; the divisions, ranked in order of hierarchy from highest to lowest, are as follows: Makuuchi, or makunouchi, is the top division. It is fixed at 42 wrestlers. At the top of the division are the "titleholders", or "champions" called the san'yaku comprising yokozuna, ōzeki and komusubi. There are 8–12 wrestlers in these ranks with the remainder, called maegashira, ranked in numerical order from 1 downwards; this is the only division, featured on standard NHK's live coverage of sumo tournaments and is broadcast bilingually.
The latter part of the lower divisions is shown on satellite coverage. The name makuuchi means "inside the curtain", a reference to the early period of professional sumo, when the top ranked wrestlers were able to sit in a curtained off area prior to appearing for their bouts. Makuuchi can refer to the top two divisions makuuchi and jūryō as a whole, as the wrestlers in these divisions are salaried and considered salaried professionals as opposed to "in training". Jūryō, is the second highest division, is fixed at 28 wrestlers; the name means "ten ryō"', at one time the income a wrestler ranked in this division could expect to receive. The official name of the second division is jūmaime, meaning "tenth placing" and can be heard in official announcements and seen in some publications, but within and outside the sumo world it is universally known as jūryō. Wrestlers in the jūryō and the makuuchi division above are known as sekitori. Jūryō wrestlers, like those in the top makuuchi division, receive a regular monthly salary as well as other perks associated with having become a sekitori, or a member of the two upper divisions in sumo.
Sumo wrestlers ranked in the divisions below jūryō are considered to be in training and receive a small allowance instead of a salary. Jūryō wrestlers, along with their makuuchi counterparts, are the only professional sumo wrestlers who compete in a full fifteen bouts per official tournament. In the case of injuries with makuuchi wrestlers pulling out, jūryō wrestlers near the top of the division may find themselves in the occasional matchup with a top-division wrestler; such jūryō-makuuchi matchups are not uncommon towards the end of a sumo tournament, in order to better establish promotion and relegation of individuals between the two divisions. Once a wrestler is promoted to jūryō, he is considered a professional with significant salary and privileges; as such, promotions to jūryō are announced just a few days after a preceding tournament, whereas other rankings are not announced for several weeks. Makushita is the third highest division. Prior to the creation of the jūryō division, this division was only one below the topmost makuuchi division.
Hence makushita meaning "below the curtain". In the current system, there are 120 wrestlers in the division. Unlike the sekitori ranks above them, wrestlers compete only seven times during a tournament, it is considered that holding the rank of makushita is the first step toward becoming a professional sumo wrestler. Furthermore, it can be regarded as the most contested division, with younger sumo wrestlers on their way up competing with those older sumo wrestlers who have dropped from jūryō and are determined to regain the higher rank. A key incentive is the difference between being ranked in the topmost makushita slot versus the lowest jūryō rank, likened to being that between heaven and hell: A wrestler ranked at makushita or lower is expected to carry out chores for the stable and any sekitori within it, whereas the jūryō wrestler will be served upon; the jūryō wrestler receives a comfortable monthly salary, whereas a wrestler below makushita still only receives a small living allowance.
Winning all seven matches in a tournament grants an unconditional advance to the jūryō division if one is ranked within the top thirty wrestlers of the division. For any other member of the division a 7–0 record will guarantee promotion to within the top thirty members, so two successive 7–0 records will allow a makushita wrestler to advance to jūryō; those in the uppermost ranks of the division and thus slated for a possible advancement may have a match with those in jūryō, either as one of the seven matches they are expected to compete in, or in addition to the matches they have had. This eighth match is sometimes required as a result of tournament withdrawals due to injury of sekitori, is given to makushita wrestler who have achieved a 3–4 or worse record in their regular seven bouts, it is ignored if one loses and counted if one wins, making it a true bonus bout for a makushita wrestler. In such a match-up the makushita wrestler will have his hair fashioned into a full oicho-mage as sekitori do but continues to wear his plain cotton mawashi.
The term makushita, can be used to refer to all four divisions as a whole that are below jūryō, as these four divisions are considered wrestlers that are still in training. Sandanme