Kotooshu calls time on career

TOKYO (Kyodo, SumoTalk) Kotooshu, the first European wrestler to ever win an Emperor’s Cup and achieve sumo’s second highest rank of ozeki, retired today.

The Bulgarian rikishi submitted his retirement papers to the Japan Sumo Association (JSA). He said he has reached his physical limit and no longer possesses the energy to continue wrestling.

Kotooshu, 31, was promoted to the ozeki rank in January 2006 and served at the second highest rank for 47 tournaments — the fourth longest on the all-time list. Kotooshu Katsunori made his sumo debut in 2002. He fought 57 basho in the Makuuchi division finishing with a 466-322 record with 63 kyujo bouts.

At the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament 2014, Kotooshu withdrew from the meet on the 11th day with a shoulder injury.

Kotooshu plans to instruct junior wrestlers. As an elder in the JSA, he will be known as stable master Kotooshu. Wrestlers who achieve the rank of ozeki can retain their ring name for three years after retirement.

In January 2014, Kotooshu became naturalized Japanese. He took his wife’s maiden name and now his real name is Karoyan Ando.

Under Japan Sumo Association rules, wrestlers can only become sumo elders if they are Japanese nationals. Sumo elder membership, however, can only be obtained by purchasing elder stock (toshiyori kabu) in the JSA.

There are only 105 shares available for purchase, and the increasing lifespan of elders has meant that they take longer to become vacant. As a result, their decreasing availability has caused their price to greatly increase, with stock now reportedly selling for up to ¥500 million.

“My body is too broken down for me to do the kind of sumo I want to,” Kotooshu began at a press conference surrounded by his stable master, Sadogatake-oyakata. “I felt that my time was done after being thrown by Hakuho on day 10,” he explained. The former Ozeki said he talked to his stable master that evening about his decision and said that he had no regrets. Regarding Hakuho as his final opponent, he said, “We rose up the ranks together and practiced seemingly every day. I’m really happy that my last bout was against Hakuho-zeki.”

When asked what his greatest memory was, Kotooshu singled out the 2008 Natsu basho where he won his only career yusho. “My father came from Bulgaria, and of course my stable master and the kamisan were there, so it was neat to win yusho in front of all my parents.”

Baruto retires from sumo

TOKYO (Kyodo) Estonian former ozeki Baruto announced his retirement at the age of 28 on today, citing the lingering effects of his knee injury.

“I’ve decided to retire because of my knee,” said Baruto, who was demoted to the lower juryo division for the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament starting Sunday.

“I want to thank the people in Japan for all their support up to now.”

Baruto, whose given name is Kaido Hoovelson, hurt his left-knee ligament in May 2013 and withdrew from the summer basho. Struggling to recover, the Onoe stable wrestler sat out the Nagoya meet altogether in July 2013, which led to his demotion.

In the summer of 2010, the 198-cm Baruto became only the second European (after Kotooshu) to climb to sumo’s second-highest rank. He won his first title in 2012 at the New Year basho as sekiwake, and hopes for yokozuna promotion had been high.

Ozeki Harumafuji became the 70th yokozuna in sumo history

TOKYO (Kyodo) Ozeki Harumafuji became the 70th yokozuna in sumo history today after the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) finalized the promotion of the Mongolian wrestler during its executive committee meeting.

JSA executives rubber-stamped the promotion of Harumafuji based on the recommendation unanimously made Monday by members of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, an advisory body to the association, after the 28-year-old wrestler secured back-to-back tournament titles with his victory at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament last week at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

“I accept this humbly,” Harumafuji said. “With the awareness of what it means to be a yokozuna, I will devote my body and soul to the way of sumo. Because I am who I am, all I can do is give my all in my own way. I want to get the most out of each and every day.

“I am full of gratitude. My desire to put forth a greater effort has gotten stronger. These past two days have been like a dream.”

Harumafuji, whose real name is Davaanyam Byambadorj, became the first yokozuna since compatriot Hakuho was promoted after the summer basho in May 2007.

Hakuho has been wrestling as the lone yokozuna in the premier makuuchi division since Asashoryu retired in February 2010. He will now be joined at the top by Harumafuji beginning at the Kyushu meet in Fukuoka in November 2012.

A native of Ulan Bator, Harumafuji underlined his yokozuna credentials after clinching his fourth career title with a perfect 15-0 record that included an epic final-day win over Hakuho on Sunday. He had set up his third bid for promotion to yokozuna by also going unbeaten en route to the Nagoya title in July.

A relative lightweight known for his speed, particularly at the tachi-ai, Harumafuji is the fifth foreign-born yokozuna, following in the footsteps of Akebono from Hawaii, Samoan-born Musashimaru, Asashoryu and Hakuho.

“Becoming a yokozuna was a dream that was distant, very distant,” Harumafuji said. “I think I have been very fortunate.

“That this has come to pass is due to all the support I have received from various quarters. I am very happy that I have been able to repay a small amount of my debt of gratitude.”

Kisenosato promoted to second highest rank

Tokyo (Kyodo) Kisenosato was formally promoted Wednesday to sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki after his elevation was finalized at a Japan Sumo Association (JSA) executive board meeting.

Kisenosato’s promotion was also endorsed at a JSA meeting to determine the rankings for the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament that will get under way at Ryogoku Kokugikan on January 8, 2012 when the 25-year-old steps onto the dohyo ring as one of five active ozeki wrestlers.

Known as the man who put an end to yokozuna Hakuho’s streak of 63 consecutive wins a year ago, Kisenosato is the second Japanese wrestler in as many tournaments to secure promotion to ozeki following Kotoshogiku, who got the green light after the autumn meet in September 2011. The next challenge for Japan is having one of their own win a tournament, a feat that hasn’t happened since January 2006.

The JSA’s officiating committee had voted unanimously in favor of promoting Kisenosato even before his final bout at the Kyushu tournament against Kotoshogiku, whom he lost to in a disappointing fashion, finishing with a 10-5 record at the 15-day meet. For sumo fans who hoped to witness the sekiwake battle it out with ozeki debutant Kotoshogiku for one more “crucial” victory, the decision by the Japan Sumo Association was a big letdown.

“Kisenosato has been solid through the last several tournaments. I want him to start putting himself in title contention,” said JSA chairman Hanaregoma. “I want him to keep doing what he is doing, work hard in training and aim to become yokozuna.”

Under the JSA’s loosely defined guidelines, a total of 33 wins over three consecutive tournaments is normally considered a requirement for a move up to ozeki. Kisenosato had reached 32 wins but the officiating committee, headed by former yokozuna Takanohana, made an exception based on his consistently strong performances and his potential.

Kisenosato had to make his run at ozeki while still coming to terms with the recent death of his mentor and stablemaster Naruto.

Kotoshogiku promoted to Ozeki

TOKYO (Nihon Sumo Kyokai, The Japan Times) The Nihon Sumo Kyokai was proud to announce that on September 28, 2011, following a special board of directors meeting, sekiwake Kotoshogiku from Sadogatake Beya was promoted to the rank of ozeki.

Kotoshogiku was promoted to the ozeki rank after an impressive 12-3 record at the September 2011 basho. With an accumulated 33-12 win/loss record since May 2011, the Fukuoka native will receive massive support from more than a million Fukuoka inhabitants when he first steps foot on the dohyo at the Kokusai Center. Expectations are high for the local boy.

Kotoshogiku is the first Japanese to be promoted anew to the ozeki rank in over four years since former ozeki Kotomitsuki and long time ozeki Kaio (another Fukuoka native) recently retired. The eyes of a nation of sumo fans will be focused on Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro.

Kaio decides to end career

NAGOYA (Kyodo News) Battle-worn ozeki Kaio, the all-time career wins leader, will retire from sumo, drawing the curtain on an illustrious but injury-plagued career, his stablemaster Tomozuna said on 19 July, 2011.

The hugely popular Kaio, who suffered his seventh defeat the same day at the ongoing Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, would have needed to win his remaining five bouts at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium to avoid facing demotion at the autumn basho in September.

“He told me that he wants to retire. He has really done the best he can, that’s all,” said Tomozuna. “I told him, ‘You’ve really done your utmost and anytime that you want to retire it’s fine with me.’ He will talk in detail at a press conference tomorrow.”

The 38-year-old Kaio was the last remaining Japanese wrestler at sumo’s second-highest rank after Kotomitsuki was banned for life from the national sport for betting on pro baseball last summer.

It is the first time since the 1993 New Year basho that no Japanese will occupy the top two ranks of ozeki or yokozuna. Americans Akebono and Konishiki reigned at ozeki at that time when there was no grand champion.

His body bruised and battered, Kaio won his career 1,046th bout on the fifth day to surpass former yokozuna Chiyonofuji as the all-time leader and added another win on the seventh day, but he suffered his third defeat in a row at the hands of rival ozeki Kotooshu on the 10th day on Tuesday.

After the loss, he made the decision after a discussion with stablemaster Tomozuna. Kaio, who will act as a coach at the Tomozuna stable, will assume the stable elder’s name Asakayama.

Kaio debuted at the age of 15 at the 1988 spring meet, along with Akebono, Takanohana and Wakanohana.

Known for his fierce upper right-handed grip, Kaio was promoted to ozeki after the Nagoya basho in 2000 and won his fifth career title at the autumn tourney in 2004.

Kaio had aimed for promotion to sumo’s highest rank of yokozuna at the following Kyushu meet, but he failed to get the green light after posting a 12-3 record.

Since 2005, Kaio has suffered from a slew of injuries and rumors of retirement have plagued him as he continued an inevitable decline. He held his ozeki status for 65 tournaments, matching former ozeki Chiyotaikai for the all-time record.

His 879 wins in the elite makuuchi division and 107 tournaments in the top flight are also all-time marks. Kaio, who turns 39 on the final day of the 15-day meet on July 24, 2011, is the only ozeki to end his career with as many as five Emperor’s Cup titles.

“I fought hard to move up the rankings and was able to keep going so long because of the support I’ve had,” Kaio said, adding, “I leave nothing behind. I might not have reached yokozuna or won the championship in front of my home fans in Kyushu but I’ve had a fulfilling career and have no regrets.”

“I’m glad I chose to be in the sumo world and I’ve met a lot of different people and experienced things I would not have been able to in a different line of work,” he said.

Kaio, who will act as a coach at the Tomozuna stable, will assume the stable elder’s name Asakayama.

Hakuho’s run ends six short of record

FUKUOKA (Kyodo News) The end was as sudden as a bolt of lightning.

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho saw his record-chasing streak end at 63 bouts after a stunning defeat to Kisenosato in the second day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Having gone undefeated the past four tournaments, Hakuho was widely expected to match and surpass Futabayama’s record of 69 set from 1936-1939.

But Kisenosato had other ideas in the day’s finale at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Hakuho got a slow jump at the faceoff and never really recovered as Kisenosato charged forward in a relentless effort before shoving the yokozuna over the edge as the crowd went into a frenzy.

The normally cool-under-fire Hakuho had obviously lost his composure as he tried in vain to thwart the attack with a throwing technique and inner leg trip before he was sent packing.

The 25-year-old began his remarkable winning run back in January 2010 with a victory over Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu on the penultimate day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho is the only yokozuna in sumo’s elite makuuchi division and has completely dominated the sport since compatriot and former yokozuna Asashoryu retired in February 2010.

He became the first man to win three consecutive titles with undefeated records at the Nagoya meet in July of 2010 and surpassed Chiyonofuji’s 53-bout streak en route to another perfect run at the autumn meet in September.

Futabayama’s record was set at a time when there were only two tournaments per year. The legendary yokozuna went on a tear from the seventh day of the 1936 spring meet until he lost against Akinoumi on to the fourth day of the 1939 spring meet.