SUMO ABC (64) / Disciple of ‘White Wolf’ expected to be as good as his mentor

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Onosho, right, defeats yokozuna Harumafuji in the Autumm Grand Sumo Tournament on Sept. 14.

The Yomiuri ShimbunAmong the young sumo wrestlers expected to have a prosperous future is Onosho. A member of the Onomatsu stable, the 21-year-old made his debut at the rank of komusubi on Sunday at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Onosho stunned spectators on the opening day by defeating Harumafuji, repeating his victory over the Mongolian yokozuna from the previous Autumn tournament.

Since his promotion to the top makuuchi division, Onosho has posted double-digit wins in three consecutive tournaments and has twice been awarded a Fighting Spirit Prize. He has made a major impact.

It is difficult even for Japanese to read the kanji used in his shikona ring name. Or rather, it is more accurate to say that reading the kanji in his ring name requires a certain familiarity with the wrestler.

The more he wins, the more the media has covered him, so now those who cannot read his name may be in the minority. This is another interesting aspect of sumo.

Actually, the kanji in his real name are also difficult to read. Kanji used in both his first and family names, Fumiya Utetsu, may not be automatically displayed when typed on a personal computer set to the Japanese language.

He is from Nakadomari, Aomori Prefecture, where he enjoyed skiing and snowboarding in his childhood. The good reflexes he acquired growing up in the town are now on full display in the dohyo ring.

The last of the three kanji in his ring name, “sho,” means “to bloom.” Many sumo fans are affectionately watching to see how Onosho will bloom in the dohyo.

In the previous tournament Onosho was maegashira No. 3, meaning he would in theory have to face all higher-ranked wrestlers. However, because many upper-ranked wrestlers, including three yokozuna, were absent from the tournament, Onosho fought only three wrestlers above his rank — Harumafuji, Goeido and Terunofuji.

Onosho defeated Harumafuji and ozeki Terunofuji. Though an achievement, his real capabilities will be tested in the ongoing tournament.

Onosho is 1.76 meters tall and weighs 163 kilograms. He is rather short for a sumo wrestler, but is slightly heavier than the average wrestler in the makuuchi division.

His fighting style of persistently pushing opponents is what draws the spectators. At a press conference held to mark the release of new sumo rankings, Onosho openly expressed his joy, saying: “I was yearning to join the sanyaku [the three ranks below yokozuna]. I’m happy, though I still don’t believe this is real.”

His stablemaster, Onomatsu, is the former sekiwake Masurao. As a newly promoted komusubi at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in 1987, Masurao sparked a wave of excitement among sumo fans by defeating two yokozuna — Chiyonofuji and Futahaguro — and four ozeki — Hokutenyu, Onokuni, Asashio and Wakashimazu.

Masurao was dubbed the “White Wolf” after “Wolf,” the nickname of Chiyonofuji. As a disciple of the stablemaster, Onosho is expected to produce similar great achievements.

— Miki is a sumo expert.

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