The new rankings have finally been announced for Haru Basho 2020!
Tokushoryu achieves his highest rank ever
After his historical feat of winning a top division tournament from the very lowest rank (M17 West) — only the second time a rikishi has done so — Tokushoryu has jumped an entire 31 ranks to West Maegashira 2.
“As expected, it’s a big change from before,” said Tokushoryu while reviewing the new banzuke in an interview in Osaka.
“I was in Juryo for so long, I began to think my career would end there, but winning the title has boosted my confidence to a degree.” His previous career highest rank was West Maegashira 4 which he achieved in 2015.
As a top rank-and-filer, Tokushoryu is expected to fight Yokozuna in March. Hoping to achieve his first gold star against a Yokozuna at the age of 33, “I’ll do my best. That’s all I can do,” said Tokushoryu.
“The biggest thing is getting to day 1 without hurting myself.”-Tokushoryu
Avoiding injury may be one consideration in his decision whether or not to participate in a first pitch ceremony at a Hanshin Tigers (his favorite baseball team) game in early March. “I’m worried because it’s right before the basho,” he said.
After winning the championship, Tokushoryu has been in high demand for several such media appearances, but he has not shown fatigue. “I’m only 33. I still feel young.” Even so, he is careful about his behavior outside the dohyo. “People are always observing, so I have to watch my words and actions.”
Kakuryu fills joint “Yokozuna-Ozeki” slot, first since 1982
After long-running Ozeki Goeido’s post-Hatsu Basho retirement, Takakeisho has become the only Ozeki for Haru 2020. This causes the West Yokozuna, Kakuryu, to be written under both West Yokozuna and West Ozeki.
The last time this happened was in January 1982, with Kotokaze as East Ozeki, and Kitanoumi as West Yokozuna-Ozeki. There were a few cases of this in 1955 as well.
Asanoyama’s Ozeki run
After posting 11-4 at Komusubi in Kyushu, and 10-5 last month as a new Sekiwake in Tokyo, Asanoyama has a chance to be promoted to Ozeki after the March tournament if he reaches 12 wins. He has his eye on the championship as well.
“I’m not just looking for 12 wins,” said Asanoyama in a recent interview, “I want to go higher than that. But I’d like to just focus on my own sumo.”
On the 23rd, Asanoyama and fellow Kindai alumnus Tokushoryu visited Kindai Sumo Club for a practice session. During the visit, Asanoyama swore to his recently deceased Kindai Coach, Ito Masato, that he would achieve his promotion.
“I consider Osaka my second hometown, so I’m excited. Reaching the top is my repayment for what my coach has done for me. With the vacant Ozeki spot, I feel this is my chance. It has been a dream of mine since turning pro.”-Asanoyama
Speaking to the press next to Asanoyama was his stablemaster, Takasago-oyakata, who said, “He should polish up his own sumo. He’s good with the right inside grip, so he should get that straight from the tachiai.”
Asanoyama responded quietly, “I just want to use that as my strength so I can live up to expectations.”
Sadogatake-oyakata’s son enters top division
Kotonowaka, a 22 year old from Sadogatake-beya, has achieved his debut in the top division after an 8-7 performance in Juryo last month. The owner of his stable, Sadogatake-oyakata (former Sekiwake Kotonowaka) is his father.
This is the 9th time in history that a stablemaster’s son entered the top division. The last time was in July of 2014, when Sadanoumi, son of a former Komusubi of the same name, made his debut.
Other notable rank changes include Shodai’s return to Sekiwake after 19 tournaments; Takayasu, Abi, and Daieisho’s fall from sanyaku; and Enho’s highest rank yet, Maegashira 4. Matches for the first two days of the tournament will be decided on March 6th.