A friendly face with bushy eyebrows, Kataonami Beya's Tamaasuka is 22 years old, the same age as Kotooshu and is viewed as highly as Kotooshu as a bright hope for Ozumo.
On Day 13 of the Nagoya Basho, Tamaasuka recorded his first kachikoshi in his Makuuchi debut basho against Asasekiryu by Fusensho. "I wanted to get a kachikoshi by competing," Tamaasuka said at the time and on the next day he beat Kotonowaka by yorikiri and got his ninth win saying, "I feel this is a real Kachikoshi for me ".
Tamaasuka is no stranger to a strange record. In his Juryo debut basho at the Kyushu Basho last year, he notched a rare "Nuke Nuke" record by wining one day and losing the next from Day 1 to the Senshuraku. It was the first such a record in Juryo or Makuuchi since Hananofuji did it in 1988.
Tamaasuka was told if he won against Tokitenku on the Senshuraku last basho, he would get Kanto-sho but he was pulled down and lost the bout. "I really regret it. Everyeone was telling me to go for it. As this was my Makuuchi debut basho, I was really exhausted." Tamaasuka received tremendous cheers from local fans in Nagoya as he is from Atsuta ward in Nagoya, the first Makuuchi dohyo debut made from Nagoya-bred rikishi since Tochitsukasa (the current Irumagawa oyakata) did it 23 years ago. As witnessed by his win against Kisenosato by Isamiashi, Tamaasuka may have been blessed with a certain amount of luck coupled with the local support this basho, finishing with a record of 9 wins and 6 losses.
Tamaasuka started sumo when he was a Grade 4 elementary student. One day without telling where they were going, his father got him in a car and took him to the Chukyo Sumo club. Their main training dohyo was located in the basement of the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium Arena where Ozumo holds its Nagoya Basho. His father also took Tamaasuka to other sumo dojos around Aichi Prefecture for "de-geiko".
Tamaasuka remembers spending many nights doing shikos alone at a park near his home in Atsuta-ward. One summer night while doing sumo exercises, a large rikishi happened to walk by and said to him, "Gambare-yo!". The rikishi was not yet sekitori Kaio. It was a time of Nagoya Basho and Tomozuna Beya had their training camp nearby. It was just a chance meeting but even now after turning pro, Kaio continues to be his sumo hero, a rikishi he is aspiring to be.
In the summer of 1997, as a third year student at Hibino Middle School, he became the Middle School Yokozuna. He was all ready to join Ozumo by then and in late January, 1998 he was preparing to going to Tokyo to join Kataonami Beya. Suddenly his father Yukio collapsed and died of a heart attack. His shikona Tamaasuka was chosen by his father and it was already decided that he would make his sumo debut using the shikona but his father passed away without seeing his son making the dohyo debut, named with the shikona. Tamaasuka started sumo initially not on his own will but forced by his father who set up a hard training regimen for him, "I often thought I'd quit sumo right away if my old man wasn't around anymore." Tamaasuka reminisces now. Tamaasuka just turned 15 years old then and he believes the experience has made him commit more than ever to continue with Ozumo.
Tamaasuka was 17 years old when he first made Makushita. It was the 2000 Nagoya Basho. It's been over two years since his dohyo debut. From this pont on to finally becoming a sekitori, Tamaasuka experienced a variety of hardships and anguishes. He was defeated each time he was about to make a jump to his next plateau. He lost the seventh bout when he had three wins and three losses six times. While struggling through, he did gain weight and gradually improved his skills. He gained about 30 kg during his Makushita days and was nearing 140 kg. Then finally in the Aki Basho last year at Makushita West 4, Tamaasuka won all his seven bouts and won the Yusho, making his promotion to Juryo in a convincing fashion.
Tamaasuka follows a true traditional sumo technique of first starting out with an oshi and then going against his opponent with a (hidari) yotsu, "This basho will still be a good learning experience. I want him to find something out even if he loses," his shisho Kataonami oyakata (former Sekiwake Tamanofuji) says while looking forward to his long time growth.
"I hate to lose to guys like Toyonoshima and Kotoshogiku (the same generation). But my hope is to one day I can face Kaio-zeki, the sekitori I truly admire," Tamaasuka says. Tamaasuka is considered to possess that special quality Kaio has, be it an ability to display large scale sumo techniques or having a gentle personality.
Amid college and foreign born rikishis in Makuuchi ranks, Tamaasuka carries a hope for those Japanese born rikishis truly starting out from the bottom. He displays great potentials and promises for future despite his comment that he doesn't have any confidence. In one short year, he has made both Juryo and Makuuchi debut. His father must have been proud with his progress so far. But he has just began. He shoud not simply satisfy himself with his accomplishment so far. To prove his trule worth and mettle he will need to contue training harder. Then his dream to face his boyhood idol may not be too far away.
(based on NHK Ozumo Chukei September 2005)
Edited by Jonosuke, 06 September 2005 - 14:03.