SUMO ABC No. 84 / Collegiate wrestlers seek to prove their worth at Autumn tournament

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo

From left: Yutakayama, who received the Fighting Spirit prize; Mitakeumi, who received the Outstanding Performance award and Technique prize, and Asanoyama, who also received the Fighting Spirit prize, pose for a photo on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on July 22.

By Shuji Miki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior WriterWrestlers from collegiate sumo are expected to engage in fascinating bouts during the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament that will kick off at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo on Sept. 9.

Such promising wrestlers will be wrestling at new rankings in the makuuchi division.

Mitakeumi, who earned his first championship in the uppermost makuuchi division at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, graduated from Toyo University; Yutakayama and Shodai, both from the Tokyo University of Agriculture; Chiyotairyu from Nippon Sport Science University; and Endo from Nihon University will have showdowns against ozeki and yokozuna.

Three yokozuna — Hakuho, Kakuryu and Kisenosato — and new ozeki Tochinoshin did not participate fully in the last tournament, so the autumn bouts will be a litmus test to see if the collegiate wrestlers’ abilities really deserve their new ranks.

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Mitakeumi is one of the top hopes as he seeks promotion to the rank of ozeki, catching the momentum of his first championship in the last tournament. In the Nagoya tournament, Mitakeumi displayed stability in his lower body and exhibited skillful techniques, which excited spectators.

Yutakayama earned 12 wins in Nagoya for the first time in his sumo career, which must have given him great confidence. He won a close fight against Mitakeumi on the final day. If he keeps fighting with the strong spirit that he showed in the bout on the final day, he is expected to outgrow himself.

Chiyotairyu, who had been promoted to one of the three highest sanyaku ranks below yokozuna, has regained his full power. It would be great if he defeated top-ranked wrestlers by pushing them with this head in the initial charge and using his thrusting power to beat top-ranked wrestlers.

This year, Shodai has constantly been in a higher rank in the makuuchi division. He needs to scale up his ability by beating yokozuna and ozeki.

Endo has high skills, but tends to be an easy victim in an attack. He should post double-digit wins while being in a higher ranked position so that he can regularly attain the three-highest positions.

In the 2000s, wrestlers from collegiate sumo such as Dejima, Musoyama and Kotomitsuki attracted attention. They have indisputable characteristics, as Dejima was well known for using his strong legs to plow down opponents; Musoyama for his intense strength; and Kotomitsuki for his skills.

I hope Mitakeumi and other wrestlers from collegiate sumo acquire their own distinctive characteristics.

— Miki is a sumo expert.

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