Gilles Furelaud and Nadine Rayon
translated by Martina Lunau
proofread by Barbara Ann Klein
photographs: Martina Lunau
The New Rikishi on the Banzuke: An Extraordinary Competition?
Seven new rikishi decided to make their starts before the traditionally overcrowded mae-zumo competition in March - and they are far from being just anybody.
Minami, Yamamotoyama, Ri, Aran: these are four shikona that we, perhaps, will have to count on in the coming years. Next to those young men, the three other new rikishi look pale. One may note that Aran, who, after all, was the 2006 world champion in the open category, finished only fourth in the tests of mae-zumo, with a negative (!) result of three losses (against Minami, Yamamotoyama and Ri) and only two wins. It's true that mae-zumo isn't like a real tournament and it can be quite difficult to interpret these results, but irrespective of the nature of the competition, a fighter like him should have a positive score, with maybe just one or two losses against the best in the competition. This simple result shows the quality of this group of four rikishi. And it already promises an intense fight for the Jonokuchi Yusho (and maybe one other skillful rikishi will benefit from that battle and "steal" the yusho himself!).
Aran and Minami
Incidentally - was the mere presence of these four excellent beginners the reason for the outcome? One could note that two of the seven rikishi weren't even aboard during the debut of the mae-zumo bouts: Akatsuki, who finally came to challenge in only one bout (and appears on the banzuke), and Kajitani, who wasn't even presented. It's possible that the "light" Kajitani (at only 86 kg) was frightened by such a hard competition, where all of the other fighters weighed in at a minimum of 125 kg on the scales!
Minami (Kesho-mawashi Nichidai)
The first two new rikishi on the banzuke, Minami and Yamamotoyama, joined Baruto in Onoe-beya. If the Estonian can overcome his recent injuries, this heya may well be a hideout for future sekitori within a short time. These two fighters come from the famous Nichidai University (with tsukedashi Mori: see below).
Yamamotoyama, with his 233 kg, is the heaviest shin-deshi in history. His university performance, along with his mae-zumo results, augurs well for this new super-heavy. A budding Konishiki? Time will tell. In the meantime, this beautiful babe (who already weighed 4.6 kg, when he was born) pleases Baruto, who is happy to have such a heavy weight as a training partner.
Yamamotoyama (Kesho-mawashi of Baruto)
Ri is Japanese, but of Korean origin, as his real name (Lee Dae Won) well shows. At 18 years of age, he comes from a college which is well known for its sports results. He was a high school Yokozuna, as well. He appears to have his head well on his shoulders, having announced that he wants to take time to learn and make progress.
Ri (Kesho-mawashi of Tochiozan)
The departure of Baruto opened a place for a foreigner in the brotherhood of Mihogaseki. It is Alan Garabaev, who has occupied that spot, since December 25th, under the shikona of Aran. Aran is Russian and comes from the same region as Roho and Hakurozan. He was the junior wrestling champion of his country.
More recently, he won the title in the open division of the world amateur sumo championship, held last October in Sakai, Japan. On this occasion, Garabaev bested Ichihara, the new fighter from Kise-beya (5-2 as makushita tsukedashi 10 in January), twice, in both the individual and the team competitions.
Alan Garabaev does not make a secret of his ambition. He has already declared that he wants to reach the Makuuchi division. "If he reaches this level, he will be even stronger", stated Mihogaseki oyakata, expressing the hopes placed on his new boarder.
Aran (Kesho-mawashi of Mihogaseki)
The last newcomer will arrive in March 2007: Mori. He is a deshi who was exempted from the mae-zumo tests and who begins at makushita tsukedashi 15, thanks to his university title of Yokozuna in 2006. A former student of Nichidai University (a great provider of rikishi), he joins Shimoda at Oitekaze-beya. His oyakata believes in him, predicting that he will become sanyaku. Additionally, Mori believes in himself, having announced publicly that he wants to become sekitori as soon as possible. He makes this statement even while recognizing that it would be bad to achieve this in only one basho (which would be theoretically possible if he goes undefeated).
Average height of the shin-deshi: 1,83 m (from 1,74 m to 1,93 m)
Average weight of the shin-deshi: 160 kg (from 125 kg to 233 kg)
Fights in mae-zumo in January 2007: some distinctive facts
Minami: no losses; wins over Aran, Daishoko and Ri
Yamamotoyama: no losses; wins over Ri, Daishoko and Aran
Ri: 3 wins, 2 losses; wins over Aran in special
Le Petit Banzuke Illustré n°20
to get more information on this subject:
table with details of all shin-deshi in March 2007.
(Understandable without speaking French)