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mikawa

Class of 2018 (Hanaoka Masaki / Mukainakano Shingo)

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Earlier this year, a post was started here in the Amasumo section titled "Class of 2019". The post focused on the year group who were born in 2003, and graduated from Middle School earlier this year. In other words, 2019 is when they are first eligible to enter Ozumo and become a pro.

Now that that post has been completed, let's do a retrospective post on the Class of 2018. Some of them joined Ozumo in 2018, some in 2019, while others have chosen to go onto High School, gradually playing a more and more important role on their respective teams. This post will however end on a sad note.

As before, we'll list the Top 32 rikishi in this year group, ranked by their results in every national level tournament prior to graduating middle school. We will also be focussing on some of them, talking about what kind of wrestler they are, what notable results they've achieved, and more importantly, what their story is. Hopefully when they start appearing in Makuuchi in years to come, you could look back to the Amasumo section and see where they came from, and what they've been through.

Oh, and could the colour red (ff0000) be moved to the main palette please?

Edited by mikawa

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1 - Hanaoka Masaki (花岡 真生), Kumamoto
2 - Mukainakano Shingo (向中野 真豪), Mie
3 - Narumi Shoma (鳴海 匠馬), Aomori
4 - Yamamoto Takeru (山本 剛瑠), Kyoto
5 - Murayama Go (村山 豪), Chiba
6 - Ezure Haruki (江連 春樹), Ibaraki
7 - Ito Hikari (伊藤 暉), Akita
8 - Shirakami Reiji (白神 嶺治), Hokkaido

9 - Urayama Shusei (浦山 秀誠), Toyama
10 - Kubo Kaishi (久保 海心), Ehime
11 - Kojima Shu (小嶋 秀), Tottori
12 - Sakamoto Hirokazu (坂本 博一), Tokyo
13 - Ikeda Ryo (池田 亮), Ishikawa
14 - Ochiai Shun (落合 駿), Mie
15 - Goshima Masaharu (五島 雅治), Aichi
16 - Kitano Soma (北野 颯馬), Tochigi

17 - Sakurai Yuki (櫻井 雄基), Ibaraki
18 - Takei Sakutaro (武井 朔太郎), Shizuoka
19 - Nakazato Tomotaka (仲里 智隆), Okinawa
20 - Ito Yasuki (伊藤 寧), Saitama
21 - Nobehara Toma (延原 闘真), Osaka
22 - Yada Shota (矢田 翔大), Oita
23 - Kume Kiyoshi (粂 貞), Yamagata
24 - Sato Kaito (里 海斗), Kagoshima

25 - Kotera Kazuma (小寺 寿馬), Osaka
26 - Nagata Ryoma (永田 涼真), Shizuoka
27 - Sakaigawa Keisuke (境川 圭佑), Aichi
28 - Amemiya Daichi (雨宮 大地), Yamanashi
29 - Sato Soya (佐藤 綜哉), Miyagi
30 - Kitano Kenta (北野 堅太), Ishikawa
31 - Honda Rikiya (本多 力也), Tochigi
32 - Yanagisawa Tsubasa (柳澤 翼), Tokyo

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#1 - Hanaoka Masaki (花岡 真生), Kumamoto

Hanaoka.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Well-rounded wrestler, very good on the belt

Major Achievements

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

Personal Stories

Hanaoka Masaki's experiences at the Wanpaku Championships pretty much sums up his journey so far - knocked out of the tournament in his first bout in Grade 4, but went on to win the whole thing twice over the next two years.

Masaki is very very good on the belt, so good in fact that he won both of his Wanpaku finals by utchari (backward pivot throw). However, when it's not a belt battle, Masaki can sometimes come up short, like that one time when he stepped out of the ring by his own momentum because of his opponent's side-step. Kinda like the opposite of Takakeisho actually.

 

During the October of 2013, Masaki and his Uto Junior Sumo Club team-mates tore up the competition at the National Club Championships. Their star-studded team 4-1 and 5-0 their way to the final, and were hot favourites against their opponents from Aomori. This is what happened when Masaki, on the far side, stepped up onto the ring for his bout. Remember that he is the defending Wanpaku Yokozuna AND the defending Primary School Yokozuna at the time.

 

And so, Masaki suffered a shock defeat, and his team went on to lose that final 3-2. Their club have never come close to winning this tournament again.

 

Masaki's performances since that time have mostly being disappointing, with subpar showings at both of the national middle school tournaments two years ago. I thought that his name would probably not come up again until next year, but apparently Masaki had different ideas.

As part of the Buntoku High School team from Kumamoto (basically Uto Junior Sumo Club but all grown up), they reached the final of this year's Inter-High Championships, where they came up against the favourites Tottori Johoku.

With his team up 2-1, up stepped Hanaoka Masaki (on the left), knowing that a win would bring home the trophy to Kumamoto. This is what happened:

 

Another national tournament, another team final, but this time, after 6 long years, Hanaoka Masaki was finally able to redeem himself, and his Buntoku team would go on to win the match 3-2. Kumamoto lost the championship because of him, Kumamoto won the championship because of him.

Edited by mikawa
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Many thanks for that! Hanaoka's sumo is very skillful and easy on the eye. He impressed me the most this year out of anyone in his year group.

Edited by Katooshu

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#2 - Mukainakano Shingo (向中野 真豪), Mie

Mukainagano.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Big, powerful

Major Achievements

Hakuho Cup winner (Grade 3)
Primary School Yokozuna (Grade 5)

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

Personal Stories

Sumo has no shortage of huge competitors, but as we all know, size isn't everything in this sport. However, for those who can make full use of their size, and their power, to blast opponents out of the ring, the sky is the limit. Mukainakano Shingo is just that, and there are few in his year group who can keep up with him.

Ever since his primary school days, Shingo has been able to win every tournament on the amateur sumo calendar, except for the Wanpaku Tournament. However, that's not because he suffered a shock defeat somewhere along the line, it's because his club simply didn't participate for one reason or another. If they did, you'd certainly expect Shingo to have even more trophies in his trophy cabinet that he already does.

Three years later, Shingo was odds on to become Middle School Yokozuna, and he did indeed win two national tournaments that year, but in the one that mattered the most, he just couldn't bring it home. Flashbacks to the 2007 New England Patriots, who went through the entire regular season unbeaten, but couldn't get the job done in Super Bowl 42, the most important game of the year.

Having joined Tottori Johoku High School since then, there are certainly no shortage of powerful opponents he can train with (Ochiai Tetsuya comes to mind). Despite only being in his first year at Tottori, Shingo has already proven his worth to the team, and no doubt will continue to play a major part for them. Take this year's Kokutai Junior team competition for example. Team Tottori were down 2-0 in the final against Team Wakayama, needing a reverse sweep to win. Huge pressure was put upon the shoulders of their third member, Mukainakano Shingo, who knew that losing was not an option. Shingo stepped onto the dohyo (from the left), and here's what happened:

 

Edited by mikawa
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Posted (edited)

#3 - Narumi Shoma (鳴海 匠馬), Aomori

Narumi.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Thin, strong, a tricky opponent to face

Major Achievements

Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 5)
Primary School Championships semi-final (Grade 5)
Middle School Yokozuna (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Strong muscles are a common trait amongst sumo wrestlers from Aomori (think Takamisakari, but without the robocop). With his physique, Narumi Shoma might not look much like a sumo wrestler, but he is, and one of the strongest rikishi in his entire year group.

Shoma likes to charge in low, head first, and quickly get his right hand on the belt. This has proved to be an effective strategy, as his individual results have been excellent, and at the same time has helped his team, Tsugaru Sumo Club, become national champions twice in three years.

Tsugaru's second championship came at the expense of the hot favourite that year, Uto Junior Sumo Club. With the final tied at 1-1, up stepped Shoma for Tsugaru. His opponent? The defending Wanpaku Yokozuna and best in his year group (as shown by the list above), Hanaoka Masaki. This bout was effectively the decider, as the remaining two matches would both go according to the form book, with one win apiece. Shoma is on the near side.

 

For me, this was the one bout that defines Shoma's legacy. He might not be as flashy or as glamorous as some of the other wrestlers we've talked about here in the Amasumo Section, but he is always capable of beating anyone you put against him. His club would later get disbanded and then merged with Nakadomari Dojo, who won the national championships three years later. Uto Junior Sumo Club would never come close to winning this tournament again.

Shoma's greatest achievement to date came in the summer of 2017, when he became Middle School Yokozuna. It was certainly an unexpected result, but not as surprising as it might have been. Below is a video of that final against Urayama Shusei, with Shoma on the left. A future Ishiura maybe? Perhaps, if he decides to join Ozumo one day.

 

Edited by mikawa
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Posted (edited)

4 - Yamamoto Takeru (山本 剛瑠), Kyoto

Takeru.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Strong, tricky to deal with

Major Achievements

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

Personal Stories

Although not a big rikishi, Yamamoto Takeru has managed to develop a style of sumo that's proven to be very effective. From the tachi-ai, he charges head-first towards his opponent, and then pushes forwards from a low position. His strength and ability to prevent his opponent from getting a hand on his mawashi makes this strategy difficult to counter. This has allowed him to achieve some great results, including a third place finish at last year's Kokutai (Junior Division).

Here is a video from last year's Kokutai, with Takeru (on the right), representing Team Kumamoto. He joined Buntoku High School after graduating from middle school.

 

Edited by mikawa
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5 - Murayama Go (村山 豪), Chiba

Murayama.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Large frame, strong on the belt

Major Achievements

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

Personal Stories

In a parallel universe, Murayama Go might have been a multiple time national champion. Indeed, his style of getting a hand on his opponent's belt and then marching them out of the ring has helped him take down many rivals, but unfortunately for him, a certain Hanaoka Masaki is even more of an expert belt fighter. Twice Murayama Go reached the semi-finals of the Wanpaku Tournament, where he was outmanoeuvred by Masaki both times.

Because of his achievements, Murayama Go was chosen for a TV program where he and two other rikishi (Hanaoka Masaki and Sakurai Yuki if I recall correctly) faced a team of Mongolian kids in a sumo match. Team Japan won. Here's a video of when Murayama Go (on the left) took down the defending champion back in Grade 5. He's now a member of Kaiyo High School in Niigata Prefecture.

 

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Posted (edited)

9 - Urayama Shusei (浦山 秀誠), Toyama

Urayama.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Big and strong, prefers belt sumo

Major Achievements

Middle School Championships runner-up (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

January 2017, Asanoyama has just won the Makushita Yusho and has guaranteed himself a place in Juryo. He returns to his home prefecture of Toyama to attend the funeral of Urayama Hideki, his former coach at Toyama Commercial High School. Urayama Hideki was a pivotal figure in Asanoyama's development, transforming him from a thrusting rikishi into a belt specialist. When Asanoyama suffered a major injury during his final year of Middle School and was considering quitting sumo altogether, it was Urayama Hideki who convinced him to keep at it and come back stronger. He was the person whom Asanoyama owed his success to, and that's why Asanoyama's full shikona is Asanoyama Hideki.

Asanoyama was undoubtedly deeply affected by his teacher's passing, and the same can be said about Coach Hideki's son, Urayama Shusei. Influenced by his father, Shusei is also a belt specialist, and has had multiple Top 16 finishes during his primary school days. His match against Hanaoka Masaki during Grade 5 was a straight up power battle, which doesn't happen often at that level. Here's a video of that bout, with Shusei on the right:

 

The pinnacle of Urayama Shusei's sumo career so far was when he reached the final of the National Middle School Championships, where he faced Narumi Shoma from Aomori. Here's what happened in that bout (Shusei is on the right):

 

Edited by mikawa
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11 - Kojima Shu (小嶋 秀), Tottori

Kojima.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Short, a bag of tricks

Major Achievements

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

Personal Stories

29th July 2012. A young Hanaoka Masaki walked into the Kokugikan Stadium with hopes of winning the Wanpaku Tournament three years in a row. He would go on to win this competition in both Grade 5 and Grade 6, but on this particular day he would leave Tokyo bitterly disappointed. Knocked out in his first bout.

His only opponent that day was Kojima Shu, a senpai of Ochiai Tetsuya at Tottori Inaba Sumo Dojo. Kojima Shu has a small stature (like Terutsuyoshi), but he uses this along with his superb agility to his advantage to outwit his opponents time and time again. Here's a video of that bout (Shu is on the left):

 

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Some impressive competitors in this year group, it's a shame that what was likely going to be the most productive year of high school sumo for most of them is essentially wasted. 

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8 hours ago, Katooshu said:

Some impressive competitors in this year group, it's a shame that what was likely going to be the most productive year of high school sumo for most of them is essentially wasted. 

Absolutely, this year's Inter-High would have been great to watch

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Posted (edited)

12 - Sakamoto Hirokazu (坂本 博一), Tokyo

Sakamoto.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Strong, well-rounded

Major Achievements

Hakuho Cup Winner (Grade 4)
Wanpaku runner-up (Grade 5)
Middle School Championships quarter-final (third year middle school)
National Club Championships winner (third year middle school, team captain)

Personal Stories

Being the son of an Ozumo oyakata (Tokitsukazu-oyakata in this case), Sakamoto Hirokazu was always going to have his time in the spotlight sooner or later. Hirokazu made known to the sumo world when he and his younger brother (Shoma) both won the Hakuho Cup back in 2013. Here's a photo of father and son inside the Kokugikan.

Tokitsukaze.jpg

 

Hirokazu rode this wave of momentum to achieve second place at the Wanpaku Tournament half a year later, losing only to Hanaoka Masaki in the final, who was statistically the best rikishi in his year group. Hirokazu (on the right) took quite a bit of punishment during his semi-final, but he persevered and came out on top.

 

Four years later, Sakamoto Hirokazu would captain his team (Kashiwa Junior Sumo Club) to victory in the 14th National Club Championships, with Hirokazu himself playing a major role in his team's success. With the score tied at 2-2 in their semi0final match against Mitaka Sumo Club, Hirokazu (on the left) stepped up to face the talented Hanafusa Kai. The pressure of the situation was immense, but he remained calm and collected.

 

As of 2020, Hirokazu is currently in his final year at Sanbongi Agricultural High School in Aomori Prefecture, and a member of their competitive sumo club. Will he follow in the footsteps of his Kashiwa senpai (like Takanosho, Kotonowaka and Kotoshoho) and join Ozumo in the near future? We'll wait and see.

Edited by mikawa
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13 - Ikeda Ryo (池田 亮), Ishikawa

Ikeda.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Tall, big

Major Achievements

Wanpaku Yokozuna (Grade 4)

Personal Stories

Hailing from the same part of Japan as Kagayaki, Ikeda Ryo and his older brother Ikeda Shun are both talented sumo wrestlers. Although Ikeda Ryo isn't quite as good as his sibling Shun, he did accomplish something which his brother could never quite manage, and that is to win a national championship.

Ikeda Ryo starts off his bouts with a push and thrust attack, and then he tries to find an opportunity to grab his opponent's belt and go from there. This worked well for him during Grade 4, when he won the Wanpaku Tournament. Here's a video of his Top 16 match against Murayama Go that day. Ikeda Ryo is on the right.

 

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16 - Kitano Soma (北野 颯馬), Tochigi

Kitano.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Big, strong

Major Achievements

Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 5)

Personal Stories

Oyama City, Ibaraki. A full 90 minute journey by car to Sensoji Temple in the heart of Tokyo. It is a journey that Kitano Soma makes every Saturday and Sunday to attend sumo training at Komatsuryu Dojo (John Gunning's club). His coach once joked that with the amount of dedication that Soma shows to the sport, it would be hard for him to not improve. Kitano Soma is a pusher and thruster through and through, preferring to stay off the belt. A bit like this (Soma is on the left):

 

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Posted (edited)

21 - Nobehara Toma (延原 闘真), Osaka

Nobehara.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Strong, prefers oshi-zumo

Major Achievements

Middle School Student Championships quarter-final (third year middle school)

Personal Stories

Back in July 2017, Takatoriki appeared on a TV program where he faced off against Grade 6 Yokozuna Yamashita Shosuke. During the sequel episode,  he was pitted against a "Super Middle Schooler" team of 1st year Uchida Kyota, 2nd year Kawazoe Fuma, and then 3rd year Nobehara Toma. It was revealed during this episode that Nobehara Toma is a very strong wrestler, but he hates studying. In fact, his mock exam's score was as low as 18 (out of 500) across five subjects. That's an average of just 3.6 marks per subject.

However, it's a different story when he's in the dohyo, where he is able to remain focussed on the task at hand. Nobehara Toma prefers to stay off the belt and find opportunities to force his opponents out of the ring. Below is one of his bouts from the Kokutai Juniors last year, Nobehara Toma is on the right:

 

Edited by mikawa
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32 - Yanagisawa Tsubasa (柳澤 翼), Tokyo

Tsubasa.jpg

Type of Wrestler

Low centre of gravity, clever in the ring

Major Achievements

Wanpaku quarter-final (Grade 4)
National Club Championships runner-up (third year middle school, team captain)

Personal Stories

NEVER FORGOTTEN

16 years of age. This is normally a time when young sumo hopefuls are either looking forward to their careers in Ozumo, or perhaps one day representing their high school in national tournaments. For the talented Tsubasa however, all this was taken away from him. At the start of October in 2018, Tsubasa closed his eyes for the final time after a year-long battle with illness. 16 years, so young, so so young.

One cannot help but wonder how far would Tsubasa's skills and strength have taken him? Could he have become High School Yokozuna? Would he have joined Ozumo and maybe one day appear in Makuuchi?

Tsubasa has certainly left his mark on amateur sumo during those 16 years he was with us. He led his club (Komatsuryu Dojo) to their best ever finish at the National Club Championships (at the time), claiming second place. And who could forget this following bout, which propelled Tsubasa (on the left) into the spotlight and sent the entire Kokugikan Stadium into roars of delight?

NEVER FORGOTTEN

 

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Posted (edited)

Update:  July 2020

Makuuchi:

Juryo:

Makushita:

Sandanme:
Sd63e - Kume Kiyoshi (粂 貞), Kotokume, Sadogatake (#23)
Sd70e
- Ito Hikari (伊藤 暉), Kotoito, Sadogatake (#7)

Jonidan:
Jd52e - Honda Rikiya (本多 力也), Kochikara, Tagonoura (#31)

Jonokuchi:

 

Comments

Both Middle School semi-finalist Kume Kiyoshi and former Hakuho Cup winner Ito Hikari are currently having a bit of trouble getting through Sandanme. It's been a year since they debuted in that division, but neither have yet come close to challenging for a Makushita spot.

Not many of the top names in this year group have joined Ozumo thus far, looking forward to see how they would do once they do turn pro.

Edited by mikawa
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