[sumo] Nice Article on Tochiozan plus spoiler at the bottom of the article

Barbara Ann baklein at attglobal.net
Thu May 10 00:09:16 EDT 2007


The spoiler does not involve Tochiozan, but it is a report of a Kyujo this
tournament.

>From the Daily Yomiuri:

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/sports/20070510TDY18001.htm


Tochiozan has top guys on the lookout

Isao Otsuka / Ozumo

Among the newer recruits to the top makuuchi division, the drums are perhaps
beating the loudest for Tochiozan.
In his debut basho at the highest level in March, his 11-4 record as a No.
14 maegashira earned him a Fighting Spirit Prize--and ensured he won't be
able to fly under the radar when the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament starts
Sunday in Tokyo.
After a reasonable 3-2 start in March, Tochiozan set tongues wagging when he
blazed to a seven-bout streak that left him in contention going into the
final days.
If he was feeling the pressure, it certainly didn't show.
"I don't mind if I lose or if my opponent sidesteps me, I'm just going to
keep moving forward," he said.
Tochiozan's most satisfying victory came against fellow up-and-comer Homasho
on the 12th day. After sweeping Homasho to the edge of the ring from a
powerful tachiai, he got a left-handed belt grip and sent his opponent out
of the ring.
"My sumo went exactly as planned, right from the tachiai," Tochiozan said.
Has beating Homasho given you confidence? "Certainly. I moved forward
well--today was a good day."
More importantly, the win marked the 10th of the basho for the man from
Kochi, and had the press scrambling to catch every word. It also sent a
clear message: Tochiozan had arrived, and he was ready to play.
Losses on the following days to Roho and Kotomitsuki extinguished his hopes
of an incredible championship, but a comprehensive final-day win over
veteran Takamisakari meant Tochiozan could reflect on a job well done.
Before the basho, his stablemaster, Kasugano oyakata, had made it clear he
expected great things from Tochiozan, right off the bat.
"I told him to win at least 10 bouts and to aim to pick up a prize," the
stablemaster said. "He doesn't get too wound up about things, so I doubted
he would be too nervous. I didn't want to see anything fancy, he just needed
to concentrate on doing his own sumo."
Unsurprisingly, Kasugano later gave his protégé a passing grade in his first
test.
Ordered to eat five bowls of rice at every meal, Tochiozan has piled on
seven kilograms since last year's Kyushu basho and now tips the scales at
almost 150 kg. In addition to increasing his mass and power, training every
day with ring-savvy sekitori such as Tochinohana, Tochinonada and
Kasuganishiki has helped him learn his craft.
"I want to learn more about belt grips. Having a number of great senpai
[senior wrestlers in his stable] helps me with my sumo," he said.
The 20-year-old's rise up the ranks and potential to go on to even bigger
things has not gone unnoticed by those at the top.
"A few young Japanese rikishi are coming up," ozeki Tochiazuma said before
his recent retirement. "I hope wrestlers such as Tochiozan and Goeido will
have a shot at becoming a yokozuna one day. That would definitely make sumo
more exciting."
Even yokozuna Asashoryu--who attended Meitoku Gijuku High School several
years before Tochiozan--has turned a wary eye toward the new kid on the
block. "How far up the banzuke rankings will he rise?" Asashoryu asked a
group of reporters recently, a question that suggests he is preparing to
face Tochiozan in the ring.
While Tochiozan won plaudits from all sides after his outstanding debut, his
objectives during the spring regional tour were pretty basic: improve his
tachiai, learn from older wrestlers and compete against them in the flesh.
"Wrestlers in the makuuchi division change the timing of their tachiai ever
so slightly, which impressed me," he said. "If you follow your opponent's
timing, you'll lose, so I want to refine my tachiai and improve it. I also
want to practice against makuuchi rikishi who I've never faced."
But Tochiozan is under no illusions that cementing his place in the top
division and working his way up to the higher ranks--and staying there--will
be easy. While working on his explosiveness out of the blocks at the
tachiai, Tochiozan also wants to expand his arsenal of techniques.
"When it comes to belt grips, I think my left-hand grip is slightly
stronger. But now, if I stop moving when I have a grip, I can't win," he
said. "So I want to learn to get to my opponent's belt quickly."
The combination of the explosiveness to thrust out an opponent and the
wherewithal to quickly unleash a move to beat him when the bout comes to a
standstill means Tochiozan is a handful for anybody. His style has also
earned him a huge following in his hometown.
When several hundred members of a supporters group formed before the Spring
Tournament in Aki, Kochi Prefecture, turned out to welcome him home after
the basho, Tochiozan's delight was plain for all to see.
"This group has just been launched, but there are so many people here today.
Thank you for your support, you have inspired me to work hard," he told
them.
Now a No. 4 maegashira, Tochiozan likely will get to pit his skills against
the ozeki crowd this time around. As the anticipation builds, however, he
seems unfazed.
"First things first, I just want to get my majority wins," he said. "And if
I come up against the ozeki, I'm going to give it everything I've got--like
I always do."
(From the May 2007 issue)

In other sumo news: No. 10 maegashira Shimotori withdrew from the upcoming
Summer Tournament after failing to recover from an injury suffered during
training in April, his Tokitsukaze stable said Wednesday.
(May. 10, 2007)



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