Amateur Sumo – the sport as it should be
Mark Buckton
Sakai World Sumo Champs – not all about winning

Las Vegas Koen
Joe Kuroda
Our man reports from the fight capital of the world

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
A look at a rikishi of yesterday with Kotozakura – our man for October

Heya Peek
John Gunning
John’s early morning dash to Azumazeki-beya & report on TKOTU

SFM Interview
Katrina Watts sits down with SFM’s Mark Buckton to discuss amateur sumo

Photo Bonanza
SFM’s best yet – Aki Basho/ Las Vegas / Amateur World Champs / Azumazeki-beya visit – seen nowhere else

Aki Basho Review
Lon Howard
Lon gives us his Aki Basho summary, along with the henka sightings results, and his take on the tournament while ‘gem’ of the basho takes a break

Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
Mikko Mattila returns to cover lower division ups and downs

Kyushu Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton
Pierre predicts the Kyushu Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein
Discovers and explains amasumo & ozumo variations

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko once again walks us through his chosen kimarite

John McTague
John’s unique bimonthly view of news from outside the dohyo

Online Gaming
Zenjimoto of ‘game fame’ covers some of the very best sumo games around – his own!

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Todd’s focus on 3 of the most interesting online sumo sites today

Fan Debate
Is the limit on foreign rikishi fair? See what our debaters had to say

SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh
In the first of our cartoon bonanzas, sit back and chuckle at Benny Loh’s offerings

Let’s Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? Gernobono tells all

Readers’ Letters
See what SFM readers had to say since our last issue

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

  taken to Nishonoseki-beya for degeiko so he could get special yotsu-zumo (mawashi grip technique) tutoring from Takimiyama, who had previously trained the great Taiho. After many hours of rigorous training sessions, Kotozakura developed his own yotsu-zumo style of going with migi-sashi (grabbing the mawashi with the right hand) and hidari-uwate (gripping uwate mawashi with the left hand) after hitting his opponent hard using his large head and forehead.

Three and half years after his dohyo debut, Kotozakura was promoted to juryo at the 1962 July basho, where he then proceeded to win two yusho to make a makuuchi debut in March of 1963. The makuuchi wall was not that easy to break initially and he fell back to juryo, but in one basho he returned to the makuuchi ranks.

By the 1963 November basho, Kotozakura was ranked at maegashira lead and was a step away from sanyaku when a tragedy struck. On day 2 of this basho, Sadogatake-beya was hit with a food poisoning incident in which six men got ill by eating fugu (extremely poisonous Japanese blowfish considered to be a delicacy); subsequently, two
of them died. As the heya’s head ranking rikishi, Kotozakura went into a deep shock and started suffering consecutive losses. Despite this setback, he felt he had to do his best for those who had passed away and he recovered sufficiently to win 8 bouts in the last half of the basho, including beating three ozeki – Tochihikari, Kitabayama and Yutakayama. He was awarded the shukun-sho (outstanding performance) award and made sanyaku the following basho.

In his komusubi debut basho in January, 1964. Kotozakura faced yokozuna Kashiwado on day 6. After a sharp yori (push) and uchari (backward pivot throw) by Kashiwado, both fell at the same time. Initially the gyoji’s decision went to Kotozakura, but it was reversed after a mono-ii. Kotozakura lost more than the bout, though, as he suffered serious multiple fractures in his ankle and knee joint dislocation.

Coming back after the kyujo, as there was no kosho (public injury) system in place, he fell all the way down to the bottom of makuuchi at the May 1964 basho. He was not yet 100% recovered and, ending with a 5 win and 10 loss record, was demoted to juryo. Known for his
‘never-say-die’ spirit and perseverance, however, he returned to makuuchi within two basho and subsequently stabilized his position in sanyaku, but he was left behind by his main rivals, Kitanofuji and Tamanoshima (later Tamanoumi), and was trying desperately to make it to ozeki.

His chance finally arose at the 1967 September basho. After defeating three ozeki during the previous basho and being awarded the kanto-sho (fighting spirit) award, Kotozakura went on to beat Kashiwado on day 4, Yutakayama on day 9, Sadanoyama on day 11 and Kitanofuji on day 12, to finish with an 11 win and 4 loss record. He was awarded the shukun-sho award and was promoted to ozeki after this basho.

Though Kotozakura won two yusho (at the 1968 July and 1969 March basho) after making his ozeki debut in November, 1967, he began to be perceived as a perpetual ozeki, chronically suffering from one injury or another. As a result, he went through three kadoban (demotion threat) basho, never outstandingly enough to be considered for yokozuna promotion.
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