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Seiyashi

Most underrated/overlooked rikishi?

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With sumo having as strong an amateur network as it does, it's pretty easy to spot up and comers who might well be the Next Big Thing, and in fact a lot of top division mainstays started their sumo careers as precisely that (Endo, Mitakeumi, Shodai).

But this question takes it from the flip side: Which rikishi would you think was underrated and overlooked, or not expected to achieve the degree of success they did, yet consistently managed to do better and improve?

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I expected Hattorizakura/Shonanzakura to struggle to get out of Jonokuchi, but I didn't expect him to put together a memorable string of performances that will make him be remembered for many years to come as the worst rikishi of all time. (Or at least the 6BPY era.)

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Meisei: relegated once from sandanme, four times from makushita, once from juryo and twice from maku'uchi. Every time he fell of the bike he got straight back on.

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Of all underrated rikishi I would have thought Kakuryu would be the best example amongst recent yokozuna (by definition the most underrated would be the most unlikely yokozuna). His career record is good, but I don't think anyone ever expected that much of him, considering his ozeki and yokozuna promotions were at times where there were much stronger rikishi occupying that rank and overshadowing him.

Edited by Seiyashi
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I always felt Arawashi's peak as a (brief) near-joi caliber rikishi was a lot higher than anybody expected him to go.

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4 hours ago, Jakusotsu said:

You can't say Meisei without Daieisho. 

Disagree. Daieisho was on the Saitama Sakae team and went through the lower divisions briskly, winning yusho in jonokuchi and sandanme before gaining maku'uchi promotion after 21 basho. He always looked like a pretty good prospect. Meisei on the other hand never went to High School, took 42 basho to reach the top division and failed to pick up any lower division yusho along the way.

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I supposed Wakanohana 3 for being in the shadow of his infamous brother?

Harumafuji and Chiyonofuji were also underrated for being on the smaller side of their contemporaries, before reaching the ranks of Ozek and above. 
 

From the current slate, I supposed that Terutsuyoshi is the most underrated little man wrestler since everyone is now watching his leg picks, Mind you, he tsuridashi-ed Rikishin (think of him as Brawn or Huffer from Transformer Gen1). And he has been able to stick in the top division since his debut there.


His steadiness & the hype surrounding Enho, Ishiura & Ura just makes their yo-yo/elevator progress look frustrating.

 

Edited by rhyen

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Musashimaru. Remarkably forgettable for a dai-yokozuna. Just because he wasn't the first foreign-born yokozuna, and his career peaked in between two all time greats in Takanohana and Asashoryu.

Even now I forget the guy's still in sumo as an oyakata.

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18 minutes ago, yohcun said:

Musashimaru. Remarkably forgettable for a dai-yokozuna. Just because he wasn't the first foreign-born yokozuna, and his career peaked in between two all time greats in Takanohana and Asashoryu.

Even now I forget the guy's still in sumo as an oyakata.

Yeah, he was the second on my list behind Kakuryu for most underrated yokozuna. The only reason he doesn't beat Kakuryu in my book is because he had a very long and steady career as ozeki before his promotion, and rocketed pretty quickly to the joi early on in his career. Kakuryu's trajectory to ozeki was a lot more gradual, and I get the feeling his promotion was even more of a surprise than Musashimaru's was.

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Takanosho got up to sekiwake (and spent 4 straight basho there) very quietly. Usually that type of thing would make him a prime 'next ozeki' candidate, but you don't hear much about him.

Despite climbing the ranks very quickly and being a highly accomplished amateur, there was little fanfare over Hokutofuji, probably because he came up with Ura and got caught in his shadow.

Edited by Katooshu
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Takayasu? No sumo background. Tried to quit several times as a youngster. Although there was some attention on him at the start because of his physique, I feel that faded over the years. By the time he went on his Ozeki run he’d spent five years as a fairly run-of-the-mill sekitori, bobbing up and down between the joi and the lower hiramaku, with just the occasional foray to Komusubi and few standout basho records to speak of. He seemed to have found his level. Then in late 2016/early 2017 he suddenly found a new gear and began performing consistently well enough in sanyaku to make the leap to Ozeki. I don’t think many people really expected that of him by that point in his career. In many ways, Takayasu’s career is the archetype of the slow burn, below-the-radar rise to the top: start young without a college reputation, climb the lower-divisions at a steady pace with no breakout performances, spend a few years achieving modest records as a sekitori.

Edited by Eikokurai

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Ama. He had great technique and ferocious tenacity. He never let go of a mawashi hold and never broke a fall if winning was in the balance. I was doubtful he'd be able to make ozeki at 126 k, and had mixed feelings about his being promoted to yokozuna because I wasn't sure he'd be able to hold the rank and didn't want him to be forced to go intai. But he sustained his rank and during the reign of the dai yokozuna of all dai yokozuna he won 9 yusho (3 zenyusho). Harumafuji was simply magnificent.

And I'd throw in Kotoshogiku in second place. In a sport where so many rikishi underachieve, he was an overachiever. Kisenosato was the rikishi almost everyone thought would end the Japanese yusho drought, but it was Kotoshogiku who did it. And Kotoshogiku beat Kise to ozeki too. He had a limited technique and ability and he made the most of it. 

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Kakuryu for me.  Musashimaru took a long, long time to get to Yokozuna, but he almost literally never had an MK, so there was never a doubt of his quality.

Kakuryu took 4 year to Juryo (~) and 1 year to Makuuchi (+), but seemed to dither a little in Maegashira, taking 15 basho to reach sanyaku (for comparison: Kaio 6, Kotoshogiku 13, Baruto 14 including 3 kyujo, Ikioi 16, Kotoyuki 20 w/ 2 kyujo, Ama 9, Hakuho 4, etc.). 

After his first basho at Sekiwake, he was 77-73 for the next ten basho; those were Tamawashi numbers, except Tamawashi went 83-67. 

All in all, not someone you'd pick for Yokozuna until he actually made Yokozuna.  Kakuryu's gift seems to have been the ability to get hot at the right time; his next 6 basho were 64-26 and he's an Ozeki.  In a crowded field (4 Ozeki) he hardly stands out.  Then ... 14-1, 14-1 and he's a Yokozuna!

EDIT: I have a serious side-question: how the hell did Kakuryu go from J1w to M8w with a 9-6 record??  No one else on the db was within three ranks of that promotion.  I'm obviously missing something, what is it?

Edited by Yamanashi
and another thing ...
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9 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

Kakuryu took 4 year to Juryo

Though like Takayasu (see above) he started as a teenager (16). Slow-but-steady rises at that age should be viewed with that in mind. Not that I disagree with the overall assessment of Kakuryu as an underrated prospect. 

Edited by Eikokurai
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Many yokozuna, including Chiyonofuji, took about the same time to make sekitori starting at that age, and some took a few years longer (e.g. 6 Takanosato). For someone turning pro at 16, with no sumo experience, 4 years to sekitori is very good.

Edited by Katooshu

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8 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

Though like Takayasu (see above) he started as a teenager (16). Slow-but-steady rises at that age should be viewed with that in mind. Not that I disagree with the overall assessment of Kakuryu as an underrated prospect. 

Yep; of course we don't know what Takayasu's final act is.  And he has a disadvantage: anyone who doesn't know his story would take a look at him and say "Well just look at that grizzly, how could he not excel at Sumo?"

I haven't been a Sumo watcher for very long like many on this Forum, so I haven't lived the careers of any of the Sumo greats.  But suppose you were asked about every successful rikishi: "when did you know he was going to become a (Y/O)?"  The most interesting guys are the ones to which you answer: "I never thought he was going to make it, until he did."

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5 minutes ago, Katooshu said:

Many yokozuna, including Chiyonofuji, took about the same time to make sekitori at that age, and some took a few years longer. For someone turning pro at 16, with no sumo experience, 4 years to sekitori is very good.

I agree that, in comparison to the average bloke, he did great.  But of course, the average # of basho to sekitori is ∞, because they never get there.  I gave him a ~ score for his march to sekitori, and a + for getting to Makuuchi quick.  But did anyone have him as the Next Big Thing at that time?  Well, that's why we would call him Underrated (of course, once someone reaches Yokozuna they cannot logically be called "overrated", but ... )  I have heard Chiyonofuji called underrated, but not overlooked.

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2 hours ago, Yamanashi said:

EDIT: I have a serious side-question: how the hell did Kakuryu go from J1w to M8w with a 9-6 record??  No one else on the db was within three ranks of that promotion.  I'm obviously missing something, what is it?

Sheer banzuke luck. Kasugao actually got M15w > M7w on a 8-7 for that basho.

To be specific:

  • all junior sanyaku were kachikoshi
  • from M1 to M7:
    • Roho and Aminishiki forced two extra Komusubi slots
    • Tamakasuga and Toyonoshima's records were terrible
  • from M8 to M16:
    • a grand total of 4 kachikoshi

So there are 4 spots to fill in M1 to M7, and those went to the kachikoshi in lower maegashira.
For M8e and M8w the candidates were:

  • Toyazakura 11-4 at J3e
  • Kakuryu 9-6 at J1w
  • Toyonoshima 4-11 at M6w

Note that makuuchi stopped at M15w for this basho. So it would have been a toss up by the numbers between Kakuryu and Toyonoshima.

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1 hour ago, Kamitsuumi said:

Sheer banzuke luck. Kasugao actually got M15w > M7w on a 8-7 for that basho.

To be specific:

  • all junior sanyaku were kachikoshi
  • from M1 to M7:
    • Roho and Aminishiki forced two extra Komusubi slots
    • Tamakasuga and Toyonoshima's records were terrible
  • from M8 to M16:
    • a grand total of 4 kachikoshi

So there are 4 spots to fill in M1 to M7, and those went to the kachikoshi in lower maegashira.
For M8e and M8w the candidates were:

  • Toyazakura 11-4 at J3e
  • Kakuryu 9-6 at J1w
  • Toyonoshima 4-11 at M6w

Note that makuuchi stopped at M15w for this basho. So it would have been a toss up by the numbers between Kakuryu and Toyonoshima.

Out of reactions, but thanks.  I guess the limit of M15 for Maegashira makes it closer to plausible.  Still, he only tapped lower Maegashira once at M11 two basho later, so that was a wonderful boost.

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My first thought was Mitakeumi out of the guys who are around now. He's a mainstay in the Sanyaku hotseats and has two Yusho to his name, he consistantly wins more than he looses and so far hasn't sat out a tournament. Yet, everyone likes to point out how much of a disappointment he is for not getting to Ozeki instead of praising him for his long stay among the top Rikishi without the help of being able to go kyujo at least once in a while. 

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23 minutes ago, Thorbjarn said:

My first thought was Mitakeumi out of the guys who are around now. He's a mainstay in the Sanyaku hotseats and has two Yusho to his name, he consistantly wins more than he looses and so far hasn't sat out a tournament. Yet, everyone likes to point out how much of a disappointment he is for not getting to Ozeki instead of praising him for his long stay among the top Rikishi without the help of being able to go kyujo at least once in a while. 

This makes him overrated more than underrated. He entered sumo as a real prospect and has shown he can perform at the highest level when he wants. We could say what he’s done so far is under appreciated, but his skills have always been held in high regard.

Edited by Eikokurai

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I would say underappreciated is more accurate. But his level of skill gets underrated because some tend to overrate his potential. He is an oxymoron. 

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Enho. We'll look back one day and marvel at the fact that one as diminutive as he reached M4 and regularly toppled giants twice his size. 

Which also brings to mind Mainoumi. 

 

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