Le Monde du Sumo
N°13 - december 2005
(Click on the picture to download
the full french issue, with pictures,...)

Nicolas Schuler
translated by Jelena Macan
proofread by Chad Edward

Kyushu basho 2005... a heap of records!

It's worth recalling that during Kyushu basho of 2005 we've witnessed numerous records broken or established. Some have received significant media attention, some have went mostly unnoticed.

Then again, some records failed to be realized...

Note: In order not to enter into debates of the kind: "Taiho or Kitanoumi still have more merit than Asashoryu, since unlike him they had to face proper opposition", we'll content ourselves with analyzing pure numbers.
Tables referred to in the text can be found in the original issue of Le Monde du Sumo, see link at the end of the page.

7 historical records!

Yokozuna Asashoryu, celebrating his 25th year, earned a place on several new pages in the sumo history books with three extraordinary performances in this November's basho (the fourth was of a less "sport-like" aspect).

1.) The Grand Slam: Asashoryu has won all six of the 2005 tournaments. Sumo has known several legendary rikishi, but until now, not one of them had managed to dominate every tournament in a year (since the establishment of current system of six tournaments per year, in 1958). Certainly some of them had won each of the six tournaments at least once, but never in the same year:

Table 1. rikishi that have won each of the tournaments at least once

A majority of those rikishi had won 4 or even 5 tournaments in a year:
Table 2. rikishi that have won 4 tournaments in the same year
Table 3. rikishi that have won 5 tournaments in the same year

...but Asashoryu is the first to maintain his superiority during the whole year!

2.) Seven consecutive yusho: The longest series of consecutive tournament wins.
This series of Asashoryu's began in Kyushu basho in November 2004, so winning the Kyushu 2005 makes it 7 consecutive tournaments.

Only a handful of rikishi that have managed a significant series:
Table 4. The longest series of consecutive yusho (* At the time this series was achieved there were only 2 tournaments per year.)

3.) 84 victories in one year: Out of 90 official bouts, this is the greatest number of victories won by a single rikishi in one year.
For 27 years, Kitanoumi, the current president of Nihon Sumo Kyokai, held the record of the greatest number of victories won in one year.
Table 5. Rikishi with over 85% success in a year (in other words, at least 77 victories).
Note: Notice that 1978 was a particularly remarkable year. While Kitanoumi was establishing his renowned record of 82 victories, Wakanohana II still managed to win 78 times!

4.) 1525 kensho in 2005: This is the total number of kensho prizes pocketed by Asashoryu in all the bouts he won this year.
In 2004, he had already become the first wrestler to pass the symbolic barrier of 1000 kensho, winning 1073. Obviously then, he blew apart his own record!

Table 6. Kensho (prizes) won by Asashoryu in 2005. (* The record of kensho won in a single tournament is 290, held by... Asashoryu, in the Hatsu basho 2004!)

But the yokozuna isn't the sole rikishi to have established a record at the end of this Kyushu basho.

In fact, sekiwake Kotooshu, thanks to his 11-4 performance (including a win over the yokozuna and another over an ozeki), has won 36 bouts in the last three tournaments. This allowed for promotion to ozeki in the Hatsu basho, in January 2006.

5.) With the promotion, he achieved the fastest promotion to ozeki. It took him 19 tournaments since his debut in professional sumo, overtaking the previous record holder, Asashoryu, who needed 22 tournaments to become an ozeki.
6.) When he becomes the 237th ozeki, Kotooshu will also be the 5th foreign ozeki, but, above all, the 1st European ozeki. (You can find more details about this promotion in Petit Banzuke Illustré issue #13).

And let's not forget Kotonowaka, whose record passed unnoticed in the shadow of his announced retirement from active competition.

7.) Holding the rank of maegashira 11 in the Kyushu basho made him the rikishi with the greatest number (81) of tournaments in the maegashira ranks, overtaking Terao by a single tournament.
Table 7. 10 rikishi with the greatest number of tournaments in maegashira ranks.

Note: Although he comes in first in number of tournaments as a maegashira, Kotonowaka is only 4th in the ranking of rikishi with the greatest number of tournaments while ranked in makuuchi division, with 90 basho. Before him, we find Takamiyama (97), Terao (93) and Akinoshima (91).

Perhaps some other time?

These records are certainly magnificent. But, since nothing is ever perfect, there were two noticeable records that went unbroken from this same tournament.

1.) The first miss belongs to Asashoryu. Yes, him again, as always. Until the 13th day, with 12 wins in his pocket, Asashoryu had an opportunity to set a 4th record: Become the 1st rikishi to win 3 zensho-yusho in the same year.
In the past, several rikishi have come close to breaking it; but, they've always remained stuck at 2, which is by itself a remarkable achievement. Asashoryu is no exception; and, his single loss against Kotooshu on the 13th day cost him this record.
Table 8. Rikishi that have won two zensho-yusho in the same year, with the score closest to third zensho-yusho

2.) The second setback is on account of Baruto. The young Estonian will not achieve the fastest promotion to makuuchi.
As he was ranked juryo four west, a score of nine or 10 victories would certainly have been enough to ensure him a promotion to the makuuchi division in the Hatsu basho in January 2006. With only 10 tournaments since his debut in professional sumo, he would have eclipsed the current record holder, Kotooshu, who took 11 basho to reach the top division. Unfortunately, an appendicitis attack several days before the start of the tournament prevented him to take part. Due to this, not only did he lose all chance of breaking the record; but, even worse, his 15 days of inactivity will be considered losses, so he'll certainly end up demoted to makushita division!

Not to forget... also achieved in 2005!

Kotooshu and Asashoryu, as we've seen, have quite distinguished themselves in this Kyushu basho, but we shouldn't forget they had already made headlines during the 2005.
A complete list of their achievements would certainly be too long; so, here is a major achievement for each of them.

Asashoryu won a yusho in January's Hatsu basho, his 10th, which made him a "dai-yokozuna", or exceptional yokozuna. Only 13 yokozuna have ever managed to achieve this honor.
1.) But even more significant is his victory in May's Natsu basho, which made him the quickest yokozuna to win the 10th yusho at that rank, taking him only 14 tournaments.
The list of other competitors is obviously very short... but very impressive as well!
Table 9. Quickest yokozuna to win the 10th yusho at that rank (since their promotion). (yusho are given in basho/total yusho/score format)

And finally, another quickness record for Kotooshu.
With his promotion to komusubi in March's Haru basho, he equaled Konishiki and Asashoryu with the fastest promotion to sanyaku, only 14 tournaments since his sumo debut.
Table 10. 10 Rikishi with fastest promotion to sanyaku. (* Active rikishi who could still rise higher.)

Sources: Nihon Sumo Kyokai, hakkeyoi.net, sumoinfo.de, szumo.hu
Thanks to Thierry Perran

Download Le Monde du Sumo n°13 to get more information on this subject:
tables referred to in the text.
(Understandable without speaking French)