Lower Division Rikishi
text by Mikko Mattila
photos by Barbara Ann Klein
|the Nagoya basho, he dropped all
the way to Ms28 and yet, wasn’t able to collect enough wins to stop the
dive. He had a 3-4 in Nagoya and an aggregate 10-18 record in makushita
for 2006 thus far. He is still only 30 years of age, but a quite unique
example of a clearly weakened rikishi.
Takahama, the former Hamanishiki, with seven basho in makuuchi, and 18 in juryo, is the second in line when it comes to experience in the salaried ranks. He was successful as an amateur at the same time as Kotomitsuki, Takamisakari, and Hayateumi, but has been in makushita for almost two years now, and, unfortunately, is not showing any real sign of ever making it back.
Towanoyama (29 years of age, 12 juryo basho) tore his patella tendon in 2004 while in juryo, and was absent for a whole year before his reappearance on the dohyo. On the morning of his makuuchi debut in March 2002, he suffered an injury to his knee. He lost his match by default and never got close to makuuchi
Lack of access to makushita bouts necessitated that I look for a new
viewpoint for this issue’s column. Thus, the article is divided into
three parts. The first part covers ex-sekitori level rikishi and their
recent performance in the lower divisions; the second part sums up the
recent success of ten of the youngest 18- and 19-year-olds within a
group comprising the 200 highest ranked lower division rikishi
(makushita 1 - sandanme 40) as they appeared in the May 2006 banzuke;
and lastly, there is a brief summary of the Nagoya basho results for
the four lower divisions.|
Injury, illness, and loss of confidence or desire can all tremendously affect a rikishi’s development curve or hasten the process of decline. One particularly interesting sub-set in the lower divisions is the group of men who were formerly in the makuuchi or juryo division. In this chapter, we’ll look at 15 former sekitori who competed in makushita or sandanme in the recent Nagoya basho. In addition to these 15, there are 2-3 active rikishi, who because of only having had one or two brief visits to juryo, are excluded from the discussion. So what goes on in a rikishi’s mind when he languishes in makushita after many tournaments in juryo or even in makuuchi? A glimmering hope to find a way back once more, or just a matter of necessity or
||lifestyle to hang on even without a real salary
and diminished ability on the dohyo?
ChiyotenzanThere is a rikishi in makushita who has just suffered a losing record for the fourth consecutive basho in that division, but who has 22 makuuchi basho, 26 juryo basho, two fighting spirit prizes, an outstanding performance prize, a juryo yusho, a ginboshi (a win against an ozeki while at a maegashira rank), and three kinboshi (wins against a yokozuna while at a maegashira rank) on his resume. Some years ago, Chiyotenzan was diagnosed with diabetes, which evidently contributed to his decline, but for