Sumo Stomp! Could this 340 lbs teenager dominate the sport?

Sumo's latest rankings are out. We have a new ozeki in Kirishima and sumo's hottest prospect, Hakuoho, entering the top division.

By: Tim Bissell | 3 months ago
Sumo Stomp! Could this 340 lbs teenager dominate the sport?
Sumo wrestler Hakuoho (formerly Ochiai). Credit: Asano Seishirō (浅野正司郎)

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The banzuke for July’s Nagoya tournament dropped on Monday and we have a lot to discuss. One of the biggest stories coming out of this latest ranking sheet is the promotion of Hakuoho (formerly Ochiai). The teenager will become one of the youngest ever rikishi to compete in makuuchi this July.

Here is the 2023 Nagoya banzuke in case you’ve not got around to seeing it yet.

Nagoya 2023 banzuke

Terunofuji 🇲🇳Yokozuna
Takakeisho 🇯🇵OzekiKirishima 🇲🇳
Hoshoryu 🇲🇳SekiwakeDaieisho 🇯🇵
SekiwakeWakamotoharu 🇯🇵
Kotonowaka 🇯🇵KomusubiAbi 🇯🇵
Nishikigi 🇯🇵M1Tobizaru 🇯🇵
Shodai 🇯🇵M2Mitakeumi 🇯🇵
Midorifuji 🇯🇵M3Meisei 🇯🇵
Asanoyama 🇯🇵M4Ura 🇯🇵
Hiradoumi 🇯🇵M5Onosho 🇯🇵
Hokuseiho 🇯🇵M6Oho 🇯🇵
Takayasu 🇯🇵M7Tamawashi 🇲🇳
Sadanoumi 🇯🇵M8Nishikifuji 🇯🇵
Takanosho 🇯🇵M9Hokutofuji 🇯🇵
Kinbozan 🇰🇿M10Myogriyu 🇯🇵
Kotoeko 🇯🇵M11Tsurugisho 🇯🇵
Chiyoshoma 🇲🇳M12Wakatakakage 🇯🇵
Gonoyama 🇯🇵M13Kotoshoho 🇯🇵
Daishoho 🇲🇳M14Shonannoumi 🇯🇵
Ryuden 🇯🇵M15Takarafuji 🇯🇵
Endo 🇯🇵M16Bushozan 🇯🇵
Aoiyama 🇯🇵M17Hakuoho 🇯🇵

Banzuke breakdown

Enter Kirishima

The biggest change to the latest sumo rankings is also the least surprising. Kirishima (formerly Kiribayama) is now an ozeki. A move that was announced swiftly after the Mongolian secured 11 wins at the May tournament. The quick announcement was due to the Japanese Sumo Association wanting to put the ozeki crisis behind them as soon as possible.

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The relief of making it to ozeki.

Kirishma’s promotion means the banzuke can again have two ozeki, one for the east and one for the west. The banzuke had been lacking this important component ever since November 2022 (before Shodai was demoted).

With balance restored to the banzuke now we can watch to see whether both Kirishima and Takakeisho can keep their status as whether or not they will be able to use it as a launchpad to becoming the next yokozuna. My money is on ‘Misty Island’.

The Monster is here

After just three tournaments in Grand Sumo, the 19-year-old ‘Monster from Tottori’ has reached the makuuchi. And he has a new name. The record breaking teenager Ochiai Tetsuya comes into the top division with a brand new shikona: Hakuoho. The name was designed by his stablemaster (and sumo GOAT) Hakuho.

Background video on Hakuoho (formerly Ochiai) by Chris Sumo.

Hakuoho is the one of the youngest wrestlers to ever reach makuuchi. In the juryo and makushita he dominated older wrestlers. But now we get to see if he can win against older and more experienced wrestlers who are also very very good.

The Monster Killer is here, too

Sorry Gonoyama, you matter, too. I know I lead with Hakuoho, but we must also recognize that Gonoyama has also reached the makuuchi. The 25-year-old has reached the top division after 14 basho in the lower divisions. He is coming off a juryo championship win in May, where he defeated Hakuoho twice including in a playoff to win the title.

Gonoyama vs. Ochiai at the May tournament.

That win gave Gonoyama a 3-0 record against Hakuoho. It will be fascinating to now see them lock horns in the makuuchi.

Big rise for Asanoyama

Asanoyama was one of the few wrestlers who gave Terunofuji a run for his money in May. He finished with a 12-3 record, only dropping bouts to Hokuseiho, Daieisho and the yokozuna himself. He’s been rewarded with a promotion which takes him 11 rungs up the maegashira ladder. In May he was able to build a 7-0 start thanks to being overmatched against the lower half of the rank-and-filers. At M4 he’s going to be tested from the jump, though.

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Asanoyama fans will be delighted by the latest rankings.

This is Asanoyama’s highest placement in the rankings since May 2021, when he was tanked ozeki. His demotion from there (and the makuuchi) was because of a lengthy suspension for violating COVID-19 protocols (and then trying to cover them up).

He won his way back into the top division, though, and you wouldn’t bet against him pulling off another winning record from this position.

Youngsters move up the pack

Three wrestlers who were all born this century received their highest ever rankings in this banzuke. They are Hiradoumi (born 2000), Hokusieho (born 2000) and Oho (born 2001).

All had fantastic tournaments in May, with Oho racking up a quiet 11-4 record.

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Hiradoumi will be mean mugging higher ranked wrestlers in Nagoya.

All of these guys are going to face each other in this tournament so it will be interesting to see if all three can keep advancing towards the san’yaku.

Endo and Aoiyama on the bubble

Endo and Aoiyama are two rikishi with long records in makuuchi who desperately need a kachi-koshi in Nagoya.

Endo, who had a Hakuoho type ascendancy to the top division, has been in the makuuchi for every tournament, but one, since November 2013. A single drop down to juryo came in 2016 off an an injury affected tournament.

Endo went 0-6 in May before sitting out the rest of the tournament.

The 37-year-old Aoiyama, who saw his stablemate Tochinoshin retire last month, finds himself M17 after a 5-10 record in May. He was first promoted to makuuchi in 2011 and has stayed there except for a single tournament in juryo in 2018.

Juryo notes

Wrestlers demoted to juryo this month are Kagayaki, Mitoryu and Ichiyamamoto. To get back up to makuuchi they will need to get through the impressive Roga, Atamifuji and Tamashoho all of whom will be looking to get promoted to makuuchi for the first time in their careers.

Notable newbies in juryo include the Ukranian wrestler Shishi and Miyagino-product Kiho (formerly Kawazoe).

Sadly the uber-popular Enho was demoted from juryo after an injury hit May.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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