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    Kotooshu Wins the Summer Tournament!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 24日 Saturday

    Kaloyan Mahlyanov, the Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (琴欧洲), won the Summer Tournament today with the Emperor’s Cup clinching quick win over the always tricky Mongolian sekiwake Ama. Congratulations!

    Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu defeated Mongolian sekiwake Ama to claim the title at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday to enter the history books as the first European wrestler to win an Emperor’s Cup. Kotooshu won his first career title with a record of 13-1 at the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

    Kotooshu came flying out of the crouch, getting both arms wrapped around Ama’s mawashi before tackling his opponent from behind. ‘‘I have no words to express. I am so happy. I finally did it,’’ said Kotooshu, who took 34 tournaments from his sumo debut to win the Emperor’s Cup. 

    Along the way he won convincingly over both Mongolian yokozunas Hakuho and Asasoryu, but was tripped up by Aminishiki on day 13 when ‘Oshu seemed to have become too nervous. Here’s the video of Kotooshu’s day 11 win over Asashoryu.

    Here’s a visual history of Kotooshu since he entered the world of sumo over 5 years ago.

    Posted in 02_English, culture, information, opinion, sumo, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    May Sumo Tournament Update

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    Though mired in various sad, terrible, and stupid scandals recently, this Ozumo (pro sumo) May tournament has provided some excitement (though I’ve never seen the Kokugikan arena that empty when I took visitors from Canada there on day 3 on Tuesday).

    Ama, one of the smallest sekitori (top division sumo wrestler) at 1.85 m (6’1″) and 126 kg (280 lb), just had an incredible bout yesterday where he did an amazing reversal “ucchari” against the younger, bigger, and stronger Wakanoho from Russia.

    Though Ama, with his 5-3 record, is not in the thick of the championship (sekitori with the best record after 15 days wins), we are finally seeing a resurgence of Kotooshu, the tall and lanky Bulgarian. He looks very confident, steady, and is finally playing to his strengths of using his long reach again, like when he made his way up to Ozeki (a rank just below Yokozuna, the grand champions). He is looking good so far, going undefeated through 8 days of this tournament so far.

    The other contenders for the tournament title are, reassuringly, the two Yokozunas, Asashoryu and Hakuho. It’s funny how things turned out, with Asashoryu basically taking on the role of the heel and Hakuho being a babyface. Sumo isn’t scripted but different personalities brought us this Mongolian Yokozuna era. Asashoryu is 7-1 and Hakuho is 8-0, as the sekitori are preparing for their 9th day’s bouts as I write. Lone Japanese sekitori in the hunt is Toyonoshima, but he’ll start facing tougher opposition as the tournament enters its second week and I don’t think he’ll be able to remain at just 1 loss.

    Interestingly, about 40% of the sekitori are foreign imports, that’s about the same ratio as the NHL and MLB. And sumo has an import restriction, so the top division would be even more dominated by foreigners without this import limit (1 per training stable, some with multiple imports have been grandfathered in). Since becoming a professional sumo wrestler usually requires joining a training stable after graduating from junior high, and the chances of success are very low (as in most pro sports careers), the profession just isn’t attracting young Japanese talent anymore. Instead, we are seeing an influx of Mongolians (from Mongolian wrestling backgrounds) and Eastern Europeans (from amateur wrestling backgrounds). They certainly add interesting flavours to sumo, both in fighting styles and in general. 

    Posted in 02_English, culture, information, MLB, NHL, opinion, sumo, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »