On the 30th, the Japan Sumo Association held their extraordinary board meeting, and a meeting of the rank-deciding committee. The hottest topic on the table was the promotion of first time champion Shodai to Ozeki. Mostly a formality as the arrangements had essentially been made beforehand, a unanimous stamp of approval was given. Between Director Kagamiyama and ringside judge Tatekawa, the decision was promptly presented to the public via the Ozeki promotion ceremony.
“I humbly accept,” said the Tokitsukaze wrestler who ended Aki Basho with a 13-2 record, “I will continue to push forward in the way of sumo, always with sincerity, so as not to bring shame to the Ozeki name.”
After his acceptance speech, he answered some press questions. When asked if he would change his shikona (sumo name) as some do when promoted to Ozeki, “It’s a rare surname, so I don’t plan to change it,” said Shodai Naoya — which is his full shikona as well as his given name.
It has been 57 years since a wrestler out of Tokitsukaze-beya has been promoted to Ozeki. The last was Yutakayama Katsuo, from whom the current Yutakayama (Ryota) derives his shikona. Kumamoto Prefecture hasn’t seen one of their own at the rank for 58 years either since the late Ozeki Tochihikari Masayuki.
The fully updated rankings chart for November doesn’t come out until the end of October. But here is what we do know (aside from Shodai’s promotion) following the banzuke committee meeting:
>>> Regarding the forced kyujo of the entirety of Tamanoi-beya after 24 of their 28 wrestlers tested positive for COVID-19, the committee decided to cut them some slack and let them stay at their current ranks going into the November basho.
“I think most of them wanted to participate. We all thought about it and decided to leave it as is,” said Isegahama-oyakata, “It wasn’t like they were just absent because they wanted to rest. It was because of coronavirus.”
>>> All four rikishi being promoted to salaried level have been in Juryo or higher before. They are: Ura of Kise-beya (an exciting return after 16 basho below!), Takagenji of Chiganoura-beya, Chiyonoumi of Kokonoe-beya, and Jokoryu of Kise-beya, who holds the record for fastest progress to the top division — just 9 tournaments from his debut in May 2011. Can he get there again?
>>> 12 wrestlers are retiring, including Juryo Kizakiumi of Kise-beya (announced earlier this month), and the lower division rikishi listed below with stables in parentheses:
Source: Nikkan Sports