Not since the Natsu Basho in May of 2012 was won by Kyokutenho, has a Maegashira (or untitled) ranked wrestler won a Sumo tournament. But this weekend, Tochinoshin (currently ranked at Maegashira #3 or M3) captured the first Sumo Basho of 2018.
Check out Tochinoshin’s Day 15 match against Endo. With the tournament victory wrapped up and the Emperor’s Cup secured before the match, let’s see how the surging wrestler from Georgia closed the greatest Basho of his career.
Despite a red hot start, the only Yokozuna in the tournament Kakuryu falters after rattling off ten straight victories to take the tournament lead. He lost for four straight days to give up the lead and eliminate himself entirely from the leaderboard. Tochinoshin was there to take advantage. Despite giving up a loss to Yokozuna Kakuryu, he remained consistent through the rest of the tournament, going unbeaten the rest of the way.
Watch Tochinoshin’s extended interview after his Day 14 victory. They go into the many ups and downs Tochinoshin has had throughout the trek to winning his first Basho.
A Maegashira taking the first Emporer’s Cup of 2018 is the highlight of a tournament chock full of a younger generation of Rikishi surging up in the ranks. This new crop of talent is taking over and 2018 has a lot of new faces making their mark on the world of Sumo.
Two rookie Rikishi wrestlers making there top division debut both won 10 matches this Basho. Such amazing success in their first time against elite competition led to both being awarded the Fighting Spirit Award. Watch rookie wrestler Ryuden face off against M9 Chiyomaru. It’s immediately followed by rookie sensation Abi facing Shohozan.
Even Maegashira #1 Ichnojo is progressing after this tournament. The largest man in Sumo is finally gaining the experience to wield his massive size. His power and growing comfort with Sumo’s biggest stage is proving to be formidable. He will enter the Sanyaku (upper group of titled wrestlers) during the March Basho in Osaka. Watch the massive Ichinojo claim double digit victories on Day 15.
And the final story emerging from the January tournament is the rise of Ozeki Takayasu. With all the turbulence with the three Yokozuna, it could finally be the year Takayasu makes his run toward his own Yokozuna status. With a 12-3 record and the runner up prize in this tournament, he could be looking at Yokozuna promotion if he can capture one or two tournament victories this year.
That’s it for the January Hatsu Basho. Sumo coverage will be back in March to cover the Osaka Basho. Yokozuna Hakuho and Kinsenasato are suppose to return to battle this new crop of contenders, which should make for a very interesting 2018 in Sumo.