Orrin Connolly here with my first report for Sumo & Stogies. I’m originally from the island of Ai*urando. Feel free to exchange that asterisk for either an R or an S, whichever triggers your volcano or tickles your leprechaun, as here in Japan there is little known difference between the two. Recently I’ve started mixing them up myself, either way, I’m from somewhere in North-Western Europe.
Vague introductions aside, welcome to the Kyushu Basho 2010, the last of the 6 most interesting two-week blocks in the year. For the next two weeks all of us here at Sumo & Stogies will be putting our work commitments aside, watching as much sumo as NHK allows, drinking various whiskeys, smoking the finest cigars, and if time remains we will even try to report what happens during the next 15 days. Let the adventure begin!
And an adventure it will be… well at least for one rikishi anyway – the Soaring White Phoenix otherwise known as Hakuhō Shō. Before today this mythical bird stood aggressively over his nest of 62 consecutive wins. And nothing short of a mythical strain of bird flu in the Miyagino beya looked possible of stopping him from setting any more new records. Surly the most difficult of task in front of him is not beating Futabayama’s somewhat erotic sounding record, but the record Hakuhō himself set this time 12 months ago; 86 wins in a calendar year. Well, if he can get through today he keeps his chances of making 87 wins in a year alive.
Let’s take a look at what happened today.
Wakakoyū vs Okinoumi
A few days ago Hokutōriki announced his absence (kyūjō) from the tournament. So Wakakoyū, the top guy in Jūryō, filled his place and took on the now lowest ranked rikishi in the Makuuchi division Okinoumi. After mutual pushing and thrusting things settled down and Waka found himself in a great position, having Oki left arm locked up, and was set to push him over the edge. But just in time Oki got a right hand grip with saved his fight. He was immediately able to try a counter throw. Both wrestlers went down at the same time. The gyōji gave it to Waka but after a mono-ii it his decision was reversed. It was unlucky for the Waka as he really should have won. Good last ditch stuff from Oki.
Shōtenrō vs Kasugaō
Shōtenrō defeated Kasugaō by yorikiri in a pretty standard fight. Nothing too special about this one, it’s surly not a fight that will ever make it to YouTube.
Kōryū vs Miyabiyama
Kōryū had his first fight with the ex-ōzeki, ex-gambling, Miyabiyama (out of interest, the last time he was an ōzeki was way back in Sept 2001). This was a very usual win for Miyabi. He repeatedly pushes in his opponent in the face for while, and then pulls on the back of their head. No doubt he is happy to win his first fight back in makuuchi.
Gōeidō vs Tochinonada
Our second returnee today took on the much older Tochinonada (36). Gōeidō came out of the tachi-ai like a greyhound out of a trap. He had No-nads on the defense the entire bout. But Gōeidō’s enthusiasm got the better of him, and although he managed to push Tochino across the dohyo twice, he was pushed off balance to his left and hit the ground before Tochino stepped out. Gōeidō still has plenty of learning to do.
Sōkokurai vs Bushūyama
The Chinese wrestler worked hard today, but he seemed to be always struggling. Bushy pulled a nice move at the end. He pulled Sōkokurai to the right which got him off balance and then quickly pushed him to the left which knocked Sōkokurai clean off his feet.
Takamisakari vs Tokitenkū
It’s funny how your opinion of people changes after you meet them. I had disliked Tokitenku for a long time, because he seemed to always henka. But in fairness about a year and a half ago he seemed to clean up his act, he also and dropped down the banzuke, but fair play to him for playing fair! I briefly met at the summer tour in Akita and was pleasantly surprised with how nice of a person he was.
Unfortunately for him having a nice personality doesn’t win fights. Today he pushed on Takamisakari’s strange head and then stepped back attempting a pull down. Taka was wise to it and reacted quickly and capitalized on the nice guys backward movement. At the edge Taka pushed and then tugged at Toki’s arm while stepping to the side and then watched his opponent drop to the ground.
Mōkonami vs Tosayutaka
Last August I had my photo taken with Mōkonami, when I checked it later I was surprised to find that he pulled this face. Fair play I guess, the wrestlers must be sick of people always asking for pictures with them.
Tosayutaka had Mōkonami on the bales today and looked set to win by yurikiri. But Mōkonami held on and used his good grip to twist Tosa around him as they fell, Ama style. It looked like a beautiful win. But a mono-ii was called, and the re-play clearly showed that Mongolians heel touched outside the ring as he was twisting Tosa around him. Very unlucky.
Gagamaru vs Toyonoshima
Last month I met Gagamaru at the Yokohama tour. He is one big, oddly shaped guy! Today he had his first ring experience with Toyonoshima. At the tachi-ai Gaga appeared to be about twice the size of his opponent! Though Gaga was obviously much stronger today, Toyo used speed and a nice leg hook to get the big guy off balance and into a position where he could dry hump him out of the ring.
Kyokutenhō vs Shimotori
A quite good yotsu-zumo match up between these two guys today. Lots of strength, twists and attempted grip breaks. In the end Shimotori got the win with the inevitable yorikiri.
Tamawashi vs Kimurayama
These guys thought long and hard before engaging at the tachi-ai today. When things got going both were content to use only pushing techniques. And without a hand getting to a belt, Tamawashi took the win via oshidashi.
Kotokasuga vs Tokusegawa
This was another first time pairing with these two guys. It was fast paced and really either guy could have won it. In the end Kotokasuga went static at the bales and the Toker held on to his solid grip and pushed his opponent out.
Yoshikaze vs Kokkai
Distance was kept between these guys as both opted for hands on attack. Kokkai wanted to push on Yoshikaze’s shoulders. But Yoshikaze is faster and after taking a few pushes he slapped on Kokkai’s hands and moved out of the way to send the Georgian to the dirt. We’ve seen Kokkai go down like this many times.
Wakanosato vs Takekaze
Takekaze henka-ed to his left today. Wakanosato reacted well, with position at least, but then tried to pull the short guy to the ground. Takekaze capitalized well, rushing forward, shouldering and pushing the older Wakanosato out.
Hakuba vs Kitataiki
Some people refer to Hakuba as Henkuba due to how often he henkas. I personally call him Henkuba because at the Akita sumo tour in August he henka-ed me when I tried to get a photo with him!
Today Kitataiki absorbed a right slap to the face well and followed and Henkuba “moved” around to his right. He tried to get a right outer grip but failed, then tried an arm throw and also failed. In the meantime Kita had secured his right grip that allowed him time to recover. And recover he did. He immediately launched his own attack and pushed Henkuba back across the dohyō, and while using a leg trip got him completely off balance, and turned around for an easy push out. Fight time: 5 seconds.
Homashō vs Kakuryū
You gotta hand it to Homashō, he bows like no other. But he also loses a lot, too. After a nice head-butt start to the match, Kakuryū tested out his chances at pulling Homashō down. That wasn’t working out so he decided to try for the belt. But the belt was a little illusive too so he just went forward with arm thrusts and easily pushed Homashō back and out.
Tochiōzan vs Asasekiryū
What was Asasekiryū thinking today? He tried an awful henka with a slap down that completely did not work out. Tochiōzan simply turned to meet him and gave one push to the side and the Mongolian was on the ground. Asasekiryū you should be ashamed.
Aminishiki vs Kaio
I mentioned earlier how your opinion of someone changes after you meet them. Well before I met Aminishiki, I didn’t think much of him. And having met him, I like him even less! But I’m also not a fan of Kaio (any more). I believe he has stolen legitimately set records from the likes of Chiyonofuji (most top division wins), and Takamiyama (most tournaments in top division). I look forward to his retirement. So with that in mind I guess I was hoping for Aminishiki to win. But he really didn’t look to well. His leg had more wrapping than an Egyptian mummy.
But today Ami contained Kaio’s right arm well, and got the old man moving backwards and out. I guess Ami was lucky that Kaio couldn’t force any weight onto his bad leg coz that thing looks like it would buckle quite easily. Aminishiki did hobble out of the arena today. I think he’ll struggle to get his 8 wins at M2.
Harumafuji vs Kotoshogiku
Kotoshōgiku incredibly has 20-9 wins over this ōzeki. And coming into todays fight with an injury surly wasn’t a good thing. Harry absorbed the initial charge quite well, but Kotoshōgiku had a good grip on his left arm, and used it immediately to thrown the injured-zeki onto his injured right shoulder.
Kisenosato vs Baruto
Before this fight I fully expected Baruto to win, Kisenosato hasn’t been on his game in quite some time, but I was completely surprised at how he approached this fight. At the tachi-ai Baruto tried to henka! Now, beside the fact that he shouldn’t need to henka guys like Kisenosato, Baruto is physically not able to henka! He’s too big and slow. Anyway, he henka-ed to his left to try get an easy grab of Kise’s right belt. It didn’t work, but he quickly changed plans and with good footwork regained himself. He got a right outer hand grip and kept Kise’s right hand neutralized with a high left grip which had Kise’s right arm up in the air. From there Bart easily ushered him out for his first win.
Learn your lesson Baruto.
Kotoōshū vs Aran
The build up for this fight consisted of the NHK cameras switching between Hakuhō and Tochinoshin. Hakkuō loked fine, Tochinoshin looked very nervous. When we heard the gyōji saying ‘jikan desu’ the cameras focused back on the ōzeki and komusubi. Aran went for a chest to chest with the tall European and gave away an easy outer left and inner right grip. Which was all Kotoōshū needed to easily force out Aran for a yorikiri win.
Hakuho vs Tochinoshin
I always feel Day 1 is the best chance to take down the yokozuna, but with Tochinoshin’s obvious nerves and Hakuhō being Hakuhō, we all knew what was going to happen. The only thing we didn’t know was which kamarite he would employ and how long he was going to take over his win.
At the tachi-ai Tochi went for a left hand grip, and got it. The Hak went for the same grip which Tochi knew was coming so he spun around to avoid. As both wrestlers spun around Hak took a solid right hand grip and then forced Tochi to submit the right side of his mawashi too. From there Hak used his undefendable uwatenage throw. Not a bad effort from Tochinoshin. And lasting 9 seconds against this yokozuna isn’t bad at all.
With that 63rd win in a row Hakuhō matches Yokozuna Tanikaze’s record. Tanikaze set his record back in 1786 when there were only 2 tournaments a year, and the amount of fights a rikishi had varied from tournament to tournament. None the less Tanikaze set a record that remained unbroken (and unmatched) for 157 years before Futabayama came along just before WWII and increased the record to 69.
Well that’s it for today ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed reading. I’m already looking forward to Day 8 when Hakuhō takes his 70th win and Day 9 when he dons the big bird golden mawashi that even though he looks slightly ridiculous in, he truly deserves! Hakuhō is currently at his peak, enjoy it my friends.
Creswell will Shō you how Hakuhō moves into the official 2nd place of all time tomorrow.