SUMO ABC (63) / Aminishiki is oldest wrestler since start of Showa to return to makuuchi

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Aminishiki smiles with a banzuke ranking list at a press conference in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Monday.

By Shuji Miki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior WriterAt 39, Aminishiki will return to top-level makuuchi division competition at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament that starts Nov. 12, it was announced Monday at the tournament’s banzuke ranking.

The wrestler will be the oldest ever to achieve a makuuchi comeback since the start of the Showa era (1926-89). He will surpass Tosanoumi, who returned at 38 years and 6 months.

Aminishiki has languished in the second-tier juryo division since he tore his left Achilles tendon last year, but his abilities and fighting spirit never waned.

His accident occurred in a match with Tochinoshin on the second day of the Summer tournament in May last year, forcing him to sit out the rest of the tourney.

He was demoted to the No. 13 west maegashira for the following Nagoya tournament but was ultimately unable to compete.

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As a result, Aminishiki was dropped to juryo for the following tournament in September, his first demotion to the second tier since the 2004 Kyushu tournament 12 years prior.

He was 37 at the time of his latest demotion and had suffered a wide range of injuries, including injuries to his right knee ligament and meniscus that he incurred in his youth. It would not be surprising for a normal wrestler with such a history to retire after suffering a fresh injury.

Aminishiki often says, “Both good and bad things happen if you do sumo for a long time.” He has shown great strength in recognizing the reality of his circumstances without wavering between hope and despair.

This year, he proved his mettle as he fought his 1,654th match on the 12th day of the September tournament as the No. 2 east juryo. With that bout, Aminishiki tied for sixth in the all-time rankings for most matches fought.

He shared for a time the sixth-place spot with Takamiyama, a former sekiwake and former stablemaster Azumazeki born in Hawaii under the name Jesse James Wailani Kuhaulua.

Aminishiki also clinched a winning record for the tournament on the 12th day, which helped him in his return to the makuuchi division.

Takamiyama had hoped to wrestle until he turned 40, even after his demotion to the juryo division, and showed great patience and endurance for years.

I hope Aminishiki can achieve what Takamiyama could not. If Aminishiki ascends to the dohyo at next year’s Kyushu tournament, he will be a 40-year-old makuuchi wrestler.

— Miki is a sumo expert.

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