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mikawa

Class of 2019 (Kawazoe Fuma / Ochiai Tetsuya)

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It has always been my wish for the Amasumo Section to function as a high quality supplement to the Ozumo and Honbasho sections on this forum, especially during non-basho months, as this is when most amateur sumo tournaments in Japan are held. With various forum members' help (such as Akinomaki and Katooshu), this section is becoming more and more of a sumo information pond than merely sumo related.

It is my hope that, when a talented youngster first joins Ozumo, or when a young hopeful rises up to Makuuchi and makes everyone take attention, people can refer to the Amasumo Section to see where they came from, how they have progressed through the years, and what their main achievements have been.

Take Takakeisho for example. If the Amasumo Section had been like this ten years ago, you could have found that bout when he was in Grade 5 that made him famous. You could have found this bout where he became national champion. You could also have read about his rivalry with Okura Takeru, one which has helped to shape his style of sumo for years to come.

And that is exactly what this post aims to help with. The Class of 2003 is a list of wrestlers who were born in 2003. They are ranked by adding up all of their results across ALL national level competitions throughout their young life, starting with when they first stepped onto the Wanpaku dohyo as a shy 4th Grader, all the way up to when they graduate from Junior High School, ready to enter Ozumo if they so choose.

On top of that, I will pick and choose a number of wrestlers among the list to go into more detail, including what sort of a wrestler they are, what stories they have to tell, and any notable results they have achieved. This is basically a "Featured Rikishi" thread that's written before they enter the limelight.

Note: I have renamed this to "Class of 2019" (the year they are first eligible for Ozumo)

Edited by mikawa
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1 - Kawazoe Fuma (川副 楓馬), Kumamoto
2 - Ochiai Tetsuya (落合 哲也), Tottori
3 - Yoshii Ko (吉井 虹), Shizuoka
4 - Tebakari Taiki (手計 太希), Chiba
5 - Fujita Kazuto (藤田 一翔), Kanagawa
6 - Otsuji Riki (大辻 理紀), Hyogo
7 - Shinoda Hiroyuki (篠田 裕之), Ishikawa
8 - Sakae Ryusei (栄 龍征), Kagoshima

9 - Sawaguchi Yoshitaka (澤口 仁誉), Aomoro
10 - Kanzaki Oki (神崎 大貴), Hyogo
11 - Hamaguchi Hayato (濱口 颯翔), Kagoshima
12 - Takeda Shoichiro (竹田 章一郎), Tochigi
13 - Hanafusa Kai (花房 海), Tokyo
14 - Nishika Haruto (西加 陽斗), Kagoshima
15 - Kakuta Toratoshi (角田 虎紀), Mie
16 - Nakatsuka Genki (中塚 玄起), Okayama

17 - Morioka Ryota (森岡 良太), Ehime
18 - Christopher Bill Lee (リ ビル クリストファー), Kanagawa
19 - Nakatani Taisei (中谷 太星), Yamaguchi
20 - Matsuzawa Kaito (松澤 魁人), Niigata
21 - Ishitoya Takaaki (石戸谷 嵩暁), Akita
22 - Yonaha Daichi (與那覇 大地), Okinawa
23 - Sakabe Genta (酒部 源太), Aichi
24 - Iriki Osuke (入来 巨助), Aichi

25 - Hatano Yuma (波多野 雄真), Niigata
26 - Wakita Kotaro (脇田 晃太郎), Kagoshima
27 - Yoshino Issei (吉野 一颯), Saitama
28 - Kodama Yuto (児玉 優翔), Akita
29 - Yamato Yuji (山藤 勇治), Gifu
30 - Izumi Atsushi (泉 厚志), Saitama
31 - Tamura Riku (田村 吏玖), Wakayama
32 - Ishioka Itsuki (石岡 樹), Ehime

Edited by mikawa
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1 - Kawazoe Fuma (川副 楓馬), Kumamoto

Kawazoe.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Big, strong, powerful, quick thinking, a strong desire to win

Major Achievements

Wanpaku runner-up (Grade 4)
Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 5)
Wanpaku semi-final (Grade 6)
Primary School Yokozuna (Grade 6)
Hakuho Cup winner (Grade 6)
Middle School Student Championships runner-up (third year middle school)
Hakuho Cup quarter-final (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

It comes as no surprise that Fuma is the most successful rikishi in this year group, though he does seem to be a bit unlucky sometimes (for example when an injury prevented him from becoming Middle School Yokozuna). He has always shown bags of fighting spirit, so much so that he once got into a bit of trouble because of it, like what happened at the end of this Wanpaku semi-final bout against his Kyushu rival Sakae Ryusei:

 

Aside from being so strong and powerful, Fuma has also shown that he has a wide array of techniques available at his disposal, which is a rare trait in someone who can thrust their opponent out so easily. Take his Wanpaku debut bout for example. Despite facing a bigger opponent, Fuma held the initiative from start to finish. He tried so many things during the bout to gain an upper hand, and when he was finally able to force that double inside grip, he took the chance and finished it off.

 

What he did in the following bout was also very impressive, the way he made that move and actually succeeding with it:

 

When Fuma was chosen to go up against Takatoriki in this special program, it was revealed that he lives in a large house, is a very good impressionist, and has very good grades (fourth best in his entire school year in fact).

 

Edited by mikawa
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2 - Ochiai Tetsuya (落合 哲也), Tottori

Ochiai.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Tall, strong, powerful, all-round sumo, very hard-working

Major Achievements

Wanpaku runner-up (Grade 5)
Primary School Championships semi-final (Grade 5)
Middle School Student Championships quarter-final (third year middle school)
Middle School Championships semi-final (third year middle school)
Hakuho Cup winner (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Testuya has a gym in his own home, where he has undoubtedly shed so much sweat over the years. He had an opportunity to meet Hakuho in person at a Tottori jungyo, where he promised that he will take Hakuho down once he gets to Makuuchi. Hakuho commented that Tetsuya has a very good body for sumo, and wished him good luck.

Testuya has shown incredible patience in some of his bouts, for example during this Hakuho Cup semi-final. Here he was up against a very good opponent, so he bided his time, waiting for an opportunity to strike, and when the chance came, he finished off the bout in an instant.

 

That was in the semi-final. Against a very skilled opponent in the final, Tetsuya expertly kept his opponent's right hand off his belt, which gave him the time to manoeuvre his opponents into a position where he could win in one move.

 

Just as impressive was his Wanpaku quarter-final bout in Grade 5, on his way to reaching the final that year. It was the only time that Tetsuya has ever faced Kawazoe Fuma, and against such a strong opponent, Tetsuya needed to do something special to pull through. That he did.

 

Edited by mikawa
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3 - Yoshii Ko (吉井 虹), Shizuoka

Yoshii.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Tall, strong, well-rounded

Major Achievements

Primary School Championships runner-up (Grade 6)
Middle School Yokozuna (third year middle school)
Hakuho Cup semi-final (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Yoshii Ko has always been one of the better wrestlers in the year group, but it was reaching a national final during Grade 6 that truly put him in focus. As this semi-final bout shows, Ko does have a certain swagger about him (a bit like Takakeisho actually):

 

2018 was when everything came together for Yoshii Ko. This was the year when he became Middle School Yokozuna, and a couple of months later captained Yaizu Junior Sumo Club on their way to winning the National Club Championships.

His biggest weapon is his arm strength and quick thinking, which he can usually count on to turn a bout in his favour (like in this Hakuho Cup quarter-final bout):

 

Yoshii Ko has officially joined Ozumo last month, becoming a member of Nakagawa-beya.

Edited by mikawa
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4 - Tebakari Taiki (手計 太希), Chiba

Tebakari.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Tall, strong, very skillful

Major Achievements

Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 6)
Middle School Student Championships semi-final (third year middle school)
Middle School Championships quarter-final (third year middle school)
Hakuho Cup final (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Tebakari Taiki is the middle child of three siblings. He is younger brother to Kototebakari, who is currently steadily making his way up Makushita. It's very rare to see someone so "thin" be so strong, but that's exactly the kind of wrestler Taiki is. Even from a very young age, Taiki has won his fair share of regional tournaments, so much so that Hanafusa Kai, who was near unstoppable at that time, revealed in a radio interview that he saw Taiki as his rival.

Back in those days, Taiki liked to do Kotoshogiku's "Koto-Power" backstretch before his bouts, presumably to lessen the pressure and loosen up his body. Below is a very hard-to-find screenshot of Taiki's own version of "Koto-Power":

Koto-Power.jpg

 

What truly sets Taiki apart from everyone else is how very skillful his sumo is. I'd even go as far as to say that Taiki is the MOST skillful wrestler in this entire year group, and that makes him a very difficult opponent to face. You can see this in the way he ingeniously took down the Middle School Yokozuna Yoshii Ko in the following bout. That twisting backward knee trip (kirikaeshi) was incredibly well executed:

 

Taiki lit up every single tournament he participated in last year, and everyone in the audience were always very excited to see him step onto the dohyo, because you’ll almost always see something special. The Techniques Prize that he received at this year’s Hakuho Cup was certainly well deserved.

Despite being from Chiba Prefecture and having always been a member of Kashiwa Junior Sumo Club, Taiki actually represented Team Saitama in last summer's Middle School Student Championships, which Hirano Shurato's mum was very surprised to find out about. That can surely only mean one thing - Taiki will be attending Saitama Sakae High School from this month on (like his older brother). Will he follow in his brother's footsteps and enter Ozumo after graduating from High School? Only time will tell.

Edited by mikawa
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5 - Fujita Kazuto (藤田 一翔), Kanagawa

Fujita.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Tall, skillful, very strong

Major Achievements

Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 5)
Primary School Championship runner-up (Grade 5)
Wanpaku semi-final (Grade 6)
Hakuho Cup quarter-final (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Fujita Kazuto is a similar wrestler to Tebakari Taiki in so many ways - tall, strong, quick, highly skilled, though He's not quite been as eye-catching compared to Taiki. However, Kazuto's first ever bout in a national tournament was enough to immediately make people take note of him. That's because he knocked out the defending Wanpaku Yokozuna, in the first round! Talk about starting with a bang......

 

Kazuto' is one of the strongest wrestlers in his year group, and because of this, his strength has given so many opponents so much trouble over the years, even for the likes of Kawazoe Fuma and Yoshii Ko:

 

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Much thanks for this. My knowledge really drops when it comes to middle school and below, so these posts are very helpful and really help give some background to these youngsters as they move to high school or ozumo. I'm sure in years ahead several of these names will come into prominence.

Edited by Katooshu
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7 - Shinoda Hiroyuki (篠田 裕之), Ishikawa

Shinoda.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Big, strong

Major Achievements

Wanpaku Yokozuna (Grade 4)
Primary School Championships quarter-final (Grade 4)
Primary School Yokozuna (Grade 5)
Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 6)

Personal Stories

Shinoda Hiroyuki is the youngest child in a sibling of three, and has two older brothers. His father is a coach at Hakui Sumo Club in Kanazawa Prefecture, and is also involved with the sumo club at Kanazawa Gakuin High School. Hiroyuki's first national tournament was a straightforward affair, as he powered his way through the competition to become Wanpaku Yokozuna. His final against Kawazoe Fuma shows how strong his sumo was back then:

 

Prior to the Wanpaku Tournament the following year, Shinoda Hiroyuki and his father were both interviewed by someone from Kintsuba (a Japanese style sweet) as part of their 80th anniversary celebrations:

 

In the video, Hiroyuki's father gave him a box of Kintsuba sweets as a present, and said to him "eat these Kintsuba sweets, and aim for the championship!" I've always found this scene incredibly ironic, because this is what happened at the Wanpaku Tournament that year:

 

Yep, the defending champion was knocked out in his first bout. There have been occasions when a Wanpaku Yokozuna failed to qualify for next year's tournament (for example this guy), but to successfully qualify only to have this happen? That's just unlucky. If that wasn't hard enough, Hiroyuki then had to wipe away his tears and tidy up his emotions because he needed to perform the customary Yokozuna Dohyo-iri.

Hiroyuki did however get a chance for revenge a few months later, as he faced Fujita Kazuto again in the final of that year's Primary School Championships. This is what happened:

 

Hiroyuki was able to redeem himself in his final Wanpaku Tournament in Grade 6, as he managed to get all the way to the quarter-finals, where he lost to, you guessed it, Fujita Kazuto. Those two really had it in for each other.

Shinoda Hiroyuki's style of sumo is mainly pushing-thrusting, with the occasional throwing technique splashed in. This used to be very effective when he was younger, but as everyone else's strength improved, there simply wasn't enough variety / awareness in Hiroyuki's sumo for him to keep up, which is a trend you see in so many Wanpaku Yokozunas. Hiroyuki has not achieved anything of note since he graduated from primary school.

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8 - Sakae Ryusei (栄 龍征), Kagoshima

Sakae.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Big, strong, very tall

Major Achievements

Wanpaku semi-final (Grade 4)
Primary School Championships semi-final (Grade 4)
Wanpaku Yokozuna (Grade 5)
Primary School Championships quarter-final (Grade 5)

Personal Stories

As someone who shares a name with the best and most famous high school sumo club in Japan, Sakae Ryusei was pretty much always going to be a sumo wrestler, and quite a successful one at that. Ryusei grew up in Amami Oshima, which is a place where sumo has always been, and still is, incredibly popular. He has also been very lucky that he's had some very good training partners at Sumiyo Sumo Club, who have undoubtedly pushed him to be his best.

Here is a rare video of Ryusei during training, when he went up against the spirited Nishika Haruto in 3 consecutive bouts:

Ryusei, who is easily the tallest wrestler in his entire year group, went into his first Wanpaku Tournament with big hopes of coming away with the title, but it didn't quite happen that way. Standing in his way, in the semi-finals, was someone who was to be the bane of his sumo life - Kawazoe Fuma.

 

However, Ryusei came back to the Kokugikan Stadium the following year to fulfill his dreams and become national champion. Even the great Ochiai Tetsuya couldn't stop him this time:

 

Since then however, Ryusei has been eclipsed by his Sumiyo team-mates Nishika Haruto and Hamaguchi Hayato, and has not achieved anything of note in major tournaments, though he did help Team Kagoshima to a second place finish at last year's Middle School Championships. Tears flowed when he couldn't help his team win that match. The desire to win is still there, but unfortunately, the skill set isn't.

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10 - Kanzaki Oki (神崎 大貴), Hyogo

Kanzaki.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Short, strong, tricky to deal with

Major Achievements

Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 4)
Wanpaku runner-up (Grade 6)

Personal Stories

Kanzaki Oki is the younger brother of Kanzaki Taiga, who is now a second year student at Kindai University in 2019. Unlike his brother, Oki is a short wrestler, but he does pack a lot of strength, and has a very good ring sense.

His short stature coupled with his varied style of sumo makes Oki a very tricky opponent to face. In fact, even the likes of Kawazoe Fuma and Ochiai Tetsuya have had trouble against him, considering that Oki knocked them out of the Wanpaku Tournament in separate years.

If you are able to watch the following video, you can jump to 9:04:32 to see Kanzaki Oki in action, and how his quick thinking brought him a huge win:

https://live.nicovideo.jp/watch/lv228206460

However, if you are unable to watch that video, this next one also shows what kind of a wrestler Kanzaki Oki is:

 

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11 - Hamaguchi Hayato (濱口 颯翔), Kagoshima

Hayato.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Tall, strong

Major Achievements

Wanpaku Yokozuna (Grade 6)

Personal Stories

Hamaguchi Hayato's debut in the spotlight was when he was in Grade 6, when he took Sakae Ryusei's place at that year's Wanpaku Tournament. It must have been mixed feelings for Hayato, as Ryusei is his club-mate and a very good friend. Ryusei's absence meant that he was not able to defend the title that he won in Grade 5, but Hayato made sure that the trophy stayed in Kagoshima by winning the whole thing. It certainly helped that Hayato didn't have to face Fuma at any stage of the tournament, but a win is a win.

Individually, this was to be Hayato's best moment, but three years later, he teamed up with Sakae Ryusei and Nishika Haruto to help Team Kagoshima to a second place finish at the Middle School Championships, only losing 2-1 in the final to Team Shizuoka. Hayato's name remains near the top of his year group, but three years of middle school have given quite a few opponents the time to overtake him.

 

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13 - Hanafusa Kai (花房 海), Tokyo

Hanafusa.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Very good ring sense, good instincts

Major Achievements

Hakuho Cup winner (Grade 3)
Primary School Championships semi-final (Grade 4)
Wanpaku semi-final (Grade 5)
Hakuho Cup quarter-final (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Since they were founded in 2008, Mitaka Sumo Club struggled to get notable results. Their first showing in a national tournament (the Asashoryu Cup) ended with a 0-5 and then a 1-4 (in the losers' bracket). However, everything changed when Hanafusa Kai joined the club. Kai's talent brought the club trophy after trophy as he won most regional tournaments during that time. In fact, the only person who could beat him was Chris Gould's favourite sumo kid, Tebakari Taiki, something which Kai himself acknowledged in a radio interview. Grade 3 would bring Kai his biggest achievement to date - winning the Hakuho Cup.

With no one in Tokyo even coming close to Kai's level (Taiki is from Chiba), it seemed a sure thing that Hanafusa Kai would impress at the Wanpaku Tournament in Grade 4. Even Kai himself thought so, as he started practising the Yokozuna Dohyo-iri during training. However, fate had other ideas, as Kai couldn't even win the Chofu city qualifiers that year, never mind the Tokyo prefectural qualifiers. This setback left a lasting effect on the young Kai, as he trained even harder, and was rewarded with two semi-final finishes over the following year.

Even now, Hanafusa Kai is one of the names to watch out for, but he isn't as big, or as strong, as some of his biggest foes. Kai's arrival changed the fortunes of his sumo club, and I certainly hope that he is able to play his part in the high school sumo club over the next couple of years.

 

Edited by mikawa
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14 - Nishika Haruto (西加 陽斗), Kagoshima

Nishika.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Short, determined, good timing

Major Achievements

Primary School Championships semi-final (Grade 4)
Middle School Student Championships winner (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Ever since he was little, Nishika Haruto has lived in the shadows of his larger club-mates, Sakae Ryusei and Hamaguchi Hayato. It's not that he's not any good, on the contrary, Haruto is very good, but Ryusei and Hayato are, at least back then, just better (they're both national champions). However, this isn't to say that Haruto didn't have his moment in the spotlight (he was a national semi-finalist back in Grade 4), but most of the time his experience with sumo went a bit like this:

 

Having national champions as training partners isn't just an obstacle, it's also a form of motivation. Haruto knows that if he can match, or even surpass Ryusei and Hayato, then he can go head-to-head against anyone in the country. And so, fast forward to the summer of 2018, when Haruto went all the way to the final of the Middle School Student Championships inside the Kokugikan Stadium. With over a thousand people watching in the stands, and with Kawazoe Fuma, the best in his year group, standing opposite him on the dohyo, Haruto needed everything he's learnt from sparring with Ryusei and Hayato to stand a chance. Welcome, to a moment in amateur sumo.

 

Edited by mikawa
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15 - Kakuda Toraki (角田 虎紀), Mie

Kakuda.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Short, strong

Major Achievements

Primary School Yokozuna (Grade 4)
Primary School Championships semi-final (Grade 5)

Personal Stories

If someone shines at the Primary School Championships in December, they have usually been somewhat successful at the Wanpaku Tournament in early August (not necessarily in the same year). However, there are two Wanpaku Yokozuna who have NEVER appeared at the Wanpaku Tournament. It's not that they didn't qualify though, as they most certainly would have breezed through the qualifiers. They just never participated, and I've never been able to find out why.

The older one is called Mukainakano Shingo, who should have been Middle School Yokozuna in 2018 and is now an important member of Tottori Johoku High School, The younger one is called Kakuda Toraki. He is somewhat like Nishika Haruto, but with more power and less variation. Here's Toraki (on the left) competing at this year's Hakuho Cup:

 

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Absolutely!! (Clappingwildly...)

I've really enjoyed reading this. Very helpful to add context to the high school scene now that theyve graduated middle school as well.

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Update:  2020 Natsu Basho (or the next available basho)

Makushita 54w - Yoshii Ko (吉井 虹), Yoshii, Nakagawa (#3)
Sandanme 50w - Otsuji Riki (大辻 理紀), Otsuji, Takadagawa (#6)

 

Comments

Both Ko and Riki are gradually making their way up the banzuke. Middle School Yokozuna Ko has started off his Ozumo career with six consecutive kachikoshi, and is already in Makushita now. Riki however had to sit out his entire second basho and all but one bout in his third basho (injury perhaps?), but is now back on track with three successive kachikasho, including a Jonokuchi Yusho playoff last November.

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