Asahifuji Seiya

Asahifuji Seiya
旭富士 正也
Asahifuji Seiya Isegahama IMG 5621-3 20170304.jpg
Asahifuji at Sumiyoshi-taisha, March 2017
Personal information
Born Seiya Suginomori
(1960-07-06) July 6, 1960 (age 60)
Tsugaru, Aomori, Japan
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 148 kg (326 lb)
Career
Stable Ōshima
Record 573–323–46
Debut January, 1981
Highest rank Yokozuna (July, 1990)
Retired January, 1992
Elder name Isegahama
Championships 4 (Makuuchi)
1 (Makushita)
1 (Sandanme)
1 (Jonokuchi)
Special Prizes Outstanding Performance (2)
Fighting Spirit (2)
Technique (5)
Gold Stars 2 (Kitanoumi, Futahaguro)
* Up to date as of August 2007.

Asahifuji Seiya (旭富士 正也, born Seiya Suginomori (杉野森 正也) on July 6, 1960) is a Japanese former professional sumo wrestler from Aomori. He joined professional sumo in 1981, reaching the top makuuchi division just two years later. He reached the second highest rank of ōzeki in 1987 and became the 63rd yokozuna in the history of the sport in 1990 at the age of 30. He won four tournaments and was a runner-up on nine other occasions. He retired in 1992 and is now the head coach of Isegahama stable.

Early life

He was born in the fishing town of Kizukuri in Nishitsugaru District. His father, who worked as an electrician, was a keen amateur sumo enthusiast and Vice President of the Prefectural Sumo Federation.[1] He was determined to see his son succeed in sumo and even built a dohyō in the garden for him to practise.[1] Asahifuji also did well at sumo at school, finishing third in a national schoolboy competition, and later winning the West Japan Student Newcomers tournament while studying at Kinki University.[1] However, tiring of the never-ending training, he gave up sumo for a while and spent his time fishing.[1] Eventually an acquaintance of his father introduced him to Ōshima-oyakata, former ōzeki Asahikuni, who had recently opened his own heya or stable of wrestlers, Ōshima stable.[1]

Early sumo career

Asahifuji made his professional debut in January 1981. He was already 20 years old, considerably older than most new recruits who tend to be 15 or 16. However, because of his amateur sumo experience he was able to work his way up the ranks very quickly and won tournament championships in the jonokuchi, sandanme and makushita divisions with perfect records. He reached the second highest jūryō division after only eight tournaments, a record that stood unbeaten until 2008. He was promoted to the top makuuchi division in March 1983. He won his first special prize for Fighting Spirit in the November 1984 tournament, where he finished runner-up. He reached sekiwake rank for the first time in January 1986. After regular training sessions at Takasago stable, where he knew Asashio from his university days,[2] he began to develop a more rounded technique,[1] and after three double figure records he was promoted to sumo's second highest rank of ōzeki after the September 1987 tournament.

Ōzeki

In January 1988 Asahifuji won his first top division tournament championship, which was also the first for the Tatsunami-Isegahama icihimon or group of stables in nearly twenty years.[2] In 1989 he won 40 out of a possible 45 bouts in the first three championships of the year and came very close to promotion to the highest rank of yokozuna, but he was defeated by yokozuna Hokutoumi in playoffs in both January and May 1989. His 13–2 record in May was his fifth consecutive runner-up performance, and his seventh overall, but he had been unable to win two tournaments in a row, regarded by the Japan Sumo Association as the minimum requirement for yokozuna promotion after the embarrassment of Futahaguro's brief tenure at sumo top's rank.

After managing only 8–7 in the following tournament in July, Asahifuji endured a long slump. This was partly caused by longstanding pancreatic trouble,[2] which had first been diagnosed in 1984 and had also afflicted his stablemaster during his active days.[1] After a string of mediocre 8–7 and 9–6 scores it seemed Asahifuji would finish his career as an ōzeki. However, by mid-1990 his health began to improve, and after encouragement from his stablemaster, who reminded him that he would soon turn 30 years of age and was down to his last chance, he won consecutive championships in May and July 1990. He scored 14–1 in both tournaments, securing his yokozuna promotion on the final day in July by defeating yokozuna Chiyonofuji for only the fifth time in 28 meetings.

Yokozuna

Asahifuji began his yokozuna career with 12 straight wins in the September 1990 tournament, but he lost to Kirishima on Day 13 and was defeated by Hokutoumi in the championship deciding bout on the final day. In November 1990 he finished runner-up again, to Chiyonofuji. In January and March 1991 he posted reasonable scores of 11–4 but was never really in contention for the championship in either tournament, although he did have a memorable win over the young rising star Takahanada in March.[3] He had to wait until May 1991 for his first title as a yokozuna, when he defeated Konishiki twice on the last day, once in their regulation match and once in the playoff, to finish with a 14–1 record.

This was to prove Asahifuji's only tournament championship as a yokozuna, as the rest of his career was dogged by illness and injury. He managed only a bare majority of 8–7 in July 1991, the last tournament he was to complete. He pulled out of the September 1991 tournament with an injured shoulder on the sixth day, and hampered by the return of his old pancreatic problems missed the November 1991 tournament altogether. He returned in January 1992 but after losing his opening three bouts to Akebono, his nemesis Akinoshima (for the fifth time in a row) and finally Wakahanada, he announced his retirement at the age of 31. Asahifuj's three bout losing streak from the opening day was equal to the worst ever for a yokozuna in the 15-day era until Kisenosato lost his first four bouts in November 2018. He gave the worsening condition of his pancreas as the reason for his retirement. His danpatsu-shiki or retirement ceremony was held in September 1992. There were no active yokozuna at the time, so he was unable to follow the tradition of having one serve as his tachimochi and tsuyuharai for the event.

After retirement

Asahifuji (middle, with glasses) watching a Yokozuna Deliberation Council training session, May 2017

Asahifuji has remained in the sumo world as a coach. He had married a niece of the former Kasugayama-oyakata (former maegashira Ōnobori) in 1988, and seemed set to revive Kasugayama stable,[2] but instead he took over Ajigawa stable in 1993 due to the poor health of the previous incumbent (former sekiwake Mutsuarashi). The first top division wrestler he produced was Aminishiki in 2000, who reached the sekiwake rank in 2007. Aminishiki's brother Asōfuji, who retired in 2011 after a match-fixing scandal, was also a briefly a top division wrestler. In November 2007 Asahifuji acquired the prestigious Isegahama elder name and renamed his stable Isegahama stable. (The Ajigawa name was acquired by Aminishiki and was loaned to Shikishima of Michinoku stable until July 2012, when Shikishima switched to the Urakaze name.)[4][5] He has also worked as a judge at tournament matches.

Asahifuji's greatest success as a trainer came with Harumafuji, who he recruited in 2001 and who initially fought under the shikona of Ama. Harumafuji reached the second highest rank of ōzeki in November 2008 and won his first top division championship in May 2009. Harumafuji took his second championship in July 2011, the same tournament in which Takarafuji, like Asahifuji a Kinki University graduate, made his top division debut. Homarefuji reached jūryō in 2012, and in September of that year Harumafuji was promoted to yokozuna following two consecutive 15–0 championships. Isegahama had motivated Harumafuji by telling him before his July 2011 championship, "If you are content with being ozeki then it is all over. You do not become a yokozuna just by wanting to be a yokozuna."[6] Like Asahifuji, Harumafuji performed the yokozuna ring entering ceremony or dohyō-iri in the Shiranui style.[7] He has continued to produce top wrestlers, with Takarafuji reaching komusubi rank and Terunofuji, inherited from the defunct Magaki stable, being promoted to ōzeki, both in 2015.

He submitted Harumafuji's retirement papers to the Sumo Association on 29 November 2017 after the yokozuna took responsibility for an assault on fellow Mongolian Takanoiwa in a Tottori restaurant and bar the previous month. At a subsequent news conference Isegahama shed tears as he told reporters, "I've watched him grow since he was 16 and have never seen or heard of him being violent before... I can't imagine why it happened."[8] At a meeting on 20 December 2017 the Sumo Association accepted Isegahama's resignation as a director.[9] He was moved to the competition inspection committee where he is a deputy chairman.

He turned 60 in July 2020, and is expecting to have a kanreki dohyo-iri sometime in 2021, as he was forced to postpone it from May 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.[10] He told reporters he was keeping fit but would need to put on weight to be able to wear his tsuna.[11]

Fighting style

Asahifuji's favoured kimarite or techniques were listed by the Sumo Association as migi-yotsu (a left hand outside, right hand inside grip on the opponent's mawashi), yorikiri (force out) and uwatedashinage (pulling overarm throw). However, he was also fond of employing more unorthodox techniques little used by other wrestlers and certainly not taught by coaches. He was criticised for this by his stablemaster, the former ōzeki and noted technician Asahikuni, whose view was that by winning by his own idiosyncratic methods, he would be unable to cure his faults.[12] Asahifuji himself claimed in an interview with Channel 4 television to have no favourite technique, but did say that while "everyone likes to throw an opponent, that's not sumo."[13]

Career record

Asahifuji Seiya [14]
Year in sumo January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
March
Haru basho, Osaka
May
Natsu basho, Tokyo
July
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
September
Aki basho, Tokyo
November
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
1981 (Maezumo) West Jonokuchi #27
7–0
Champion

 
East Jonidan #44
6–1
 
West Sandanme #77
7–0–P
Champion

 
East Makushita #60
4–3
 
West Makushita #47
7–0
Champion

 
1982 East Makushita #2
5–2
 
West Jūryō #10
9–6
 
West Jūryō #6
6–9
 
West Jūryō #8
9–6
 
East Jūryō #4
7–8
 
West Jūryō #6
9–6
 
1983 East Jūryō #1
10–5
 
West Maegashira #10
8–7
 
East Maegashira #4
4–11
 
East Maegashira #11
9–6
 
West Maegashira #5
8–7
 
West Komusubi #1
6–9
 
1984 East Maegashira #4
1–3–11
 
East Maegashira #14
9–6
 
East Maegashira #6
8–7
 
West Maegashira #2
8–7
West Komusubi #1
5–10
 
East Maegashira #5
11–4
F
1985 East Komusubi #1
7–8
 
East Maegashira #1
9–6
T
East Komusubi #1
8–7
 
East Komusubi #1
5–10
 
East Maegashira #2
10–5
T
East Komusubi #1
8–7
 
1986 West Sekiwake #1
11–4
O
East Sekiwake #1
7–8
 
West Komusubi #1
11–4
O
East Sekiwake #1
4–11
 
East Maegashira #2
8–7
West Komusubi #1
7–8
 
1987 East Maegashira #1
8–7
 
West Sekiwake #1
10–5
 
West Sekiwake #1
10–5
T
East Sekiwake #1
11–4
T
East Sekiwake #1
12–3
TF
West Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
1988 East Ōzeki #1
14–1
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
1989 East Ōzeki #1
14–1–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
13–2
 
East Ōzeki #1
13–2–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
8–7
 
West Ōzeki #1
9–6
 
West Ōzeki #1
8–7
 
1990 West Ōzeki #1
9–6
 
West Ōzeki #2
8–7
 
West Ōzeki #2
14–1
 
East Ōzeki #1
14–1
 
West Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
West Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
1991 West Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
West Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
East Yokozuna #2
14–1–P
 
East Yokozuna #1
8–7
 
West Yokozuna #1
2–4–9
 
East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
1992 West Yokozuna #1
Retired
0–4–11
x x x x x
Record given as win-loss-absent    Top Division Champion Top Division Runner-up Retired Lower Divisions

Sanshō key: F=Fighting spirit; O=Outstanding performance; T=Technique     Also shown: =Kinboshi(s); P=Playoff(s)
Divisions: MakuuchiJūryōMakushitaSandanmeJonidanJonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks: YokozunaŌzekiSekiwakeKomusubiMaegashira

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Patmore, Angela (1990). The Giants of Sumo. MacDonald & Co. ISBN 0-356-18120-0.
  2. ^ a b c d Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0283-X.
  3. ^ "The Yokozuna: A Retrospective". Japan Sumo Association. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  4. ^ "Ajigawa Kabu History". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
  5. ^ "Asahifuji Seiya Kabu History". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
  6. ^ "Harumafuji basking in glow of milestone win". Japan Times. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Sumo ceremony marks Harumafuji promotion to grand champion". The Asahi Shimbun. 2012-09-28. Archived from the original on 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  8. ^ Himmer, Alastair (29 November 2017). "Tearful sumo champion steps down after brutal attack on rival". AFP/Yahoo. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Yokozuna Hakuho, Kakuryu docked pay over beating". Asahi Shimbun. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  10. ^ Gunning, John (8 July 2020). "Sumo's unique kanreki ceremonies provide windows into past". Japan Times. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  11. ^ "伊勢ケ浜親方が還暦 驚異の肉体派はベンチプレス「100キロ以上も上がる」". daily.co.jp (in Japanese). 6 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  12. ^ Patmore, Angela (1990). The Giants of Sumo. MacDonald/Queen Anne Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-356-18120-0.
  13. ^ "Sumo", Cheerleader Productions, Channel 4, 1990.
  14. ^ "Asahifuji Seiya Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2007-07-11.

External links


Preceded by
Ōnokuni Yasushi
63rd Yokozuna
July 1990 – January 1992
Succeeded by
Akebono Tarō
Yokozuna is not a successive rank, and more than one wrestler can hold the title at once

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