Takakeishō Mitsunobu

Takakeishō Mitsunobu
貴景勝 光信
Takakeisho Mitsunobu20180909.jpg
Takakeishō in 2018
Personal information
Born Takanobu Satō
(1996-08-05) August 5, 1996 (age 24)
Ashiya, Hyōgo, Japan
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Weight 166 kg (366 lb)
Stable Takanohana (until 1 October 2018)
Current rank see below
Debut November, 2014
Highest rank Ōzeki (May, 2019)
Championships 2 (Makuuchi)
1 (Jūryō)
1 (Makushita)
1 (Jonidan)
1 (Jonokuchi)
Special Prizes 3 Outstanding Performance
2 Fighting Spirit
2 Technique
Gold Stars 3
Harumafuji 2
Kisenosato 1
* Up to date as of 28 March 2021.

Takakeishō Mitsunobu (Japanese: 貴景勝 光信, born August 5, 1996 as Takanobu Satō (佐藤 貴信, Satō Takanobu)) is a Japanese professional sumo wrestler from Ashiya, Hyōgo. He made his professional debut in November 2014, and reached the highest makuuchi division in January 2017 after 14 tournaments. He won his first championship in the top division in November 2018, four years after his debut. Takakeishō wrestles for Tokiwayama stable, and his highest rank has been ōzeki, which he first reached in May 2019. He has earned seven special prizes and three gold stars for defeating yokozuna. He won his second championship in November 2020.

Early life and sumo experience

Satō's given name of Takanobu was derived from the name of yokozuna Takanohana, who would eventually become his stablemaster. Growing up in Ashiya, Hyōgo,[1] Satō competed in full-contact karate in early primary school, and was runner up for the championship in a national competition. However, his father was determined that his son would become a sumo wrestler, and in Satō's third year he began participating sumo at a local dojo. After primary school, he entered Hotoku Gakuen Junior High School, known for its sumo program. In his third year there he won a national championship and took the title of junior high school yokozuna, or grand champion.[1]

Encouraged by his father to eat hamburgers and French fries, his weight increased from 30 kilos in the third grade to 80 kilos by sixth grade.[2] He then moved to eastern Japan and entered the private high school Saitama Sakae, which had an athletics course. During his time at Saitama Sakae, Satō won two successive championships, the Kantō regional high school sumo tournament and the National Junior Sumo Tournament, wrestling in the free weight category. In total Satō won 10 national titles in his high school years. In his third year, he was also champion in the free weight category of the World Junior Sumo Tournament held in Taiwan.[3]


Takakeishō in 2017

Satō was quite eager to join the professional sumo world, so after high school, he decided to forego university in favour of competing in national sumo tournaments (which would have given him a chance to later gain makushita tsukedashi status) and quickly joined Takanohana stable.[4] Though it is common practice for wrestlers to take on a ring name upon entering this particular stable, he chose to use his real name. Because of his strong desire to join the professional ranks as quickly as possible, he participated in maezumo (preliminary sumo tryouts) in September 2014 while still a high school student, a very rare occurrence. His coach, the former yokozuna Takanohana, made an arrangement with Sato's high school that he would continue to attend school when not participating in official tournaments. Later news reports however stated that he had dropped out of high school.

Satō officially entered the sumo ring as a professional rikishi in November 2014, and in his debut won the lowest division, or jonokuchi, championship with a perfect 7–0 record.[5] He added on another championship, again with a perfect 7–0 record in his next tournament in the next highest division jonidan. In the following March tournament in Osaka, competing in the sandanme division, he finally lost his first bout on the third day, ending his successive win record at 15 bouts. In the following May 2015 tournament, in the makushita division, he had a perfect 6–0 record up until his last bout, but he lost this one to the future Takaryū, who took the championship. This happened again two tournaments later, where he chalked up another six wins in his first six bouts, only to lose to veteran Azumaryū. This was still a good enough record to compete in an eight-man playoff. He defeated two opponents to make it to the final round, but then lost the last round for the championship to future sekitori Chiyoshōma.[6] In the following November 2015 tournament after winning three bouts in a row, he lost his next four and got his first make-koshi or losing tournament. He would bounce back two tournaments later, in March of the following year, winning all of his bouts and defeating former sekitori Ōiwato [ja] in his final bout to clinch his first makushita championship. This was a decisive championship that would, in the next tournament, propel him into the salaried ranks of jūryō.

In his first jūryō tournament he became only the sixth wrestler in history, and the first ever in his teens to win eight consecutive bouts (a kachi-koshi) in his debut. He however went on to lose four bouts and ended with an 11–4 record for that May 2016 tournament. He spent the next few tournaments rising steadily up the ranks of jūryō recording only one make-koshi, his second up to that point. This culminated in his fourth tournament in jūryō where he chalked up a 12–3 record in the ultra-competitive upper ranks of this division and earned his first championship as a salaried wrestler. In January 2017, he was promoted to the top flight makuuchi division. On this occasion he chose to adopt the ring name Takakeishō Mitsunobu. The first character in his shikona surname comes from the first character in the shikona of his stablemaster, Takanohana, and the second two characters are taken from the given name of the Japanese historical figure, Kagekatsu Uesugi.[7]

In Takakeishō's top division debut he only managed a 7–8 record.[6] However, he followed up with eleven wins against four losses in the March 2017 tournament and was awarded his first special prize, for Fighting Spirit. Another 11–4 record in May saw him promoted to maegashira 1, but he struggled at his new rank and recorded only five wins in July. Ranked at maegashira 5 in September 2017, he earned his first kinboshi or victory over a yokozuna by defeating Harumafuji,[8] who went on to win the tournament. Takakeishō was awarded the Outstanding Performance Prize on the final day. In November he again recorded eleven wins, earning two further kinboshi with victories over Harumafuji and Kisenosato and receiving a second consecutive prize for Outstanding Performance.[9]

In January 2018 Takakeisho made his san'yaku debut at komusubi, the first member of Takanohana stable to reach this rank since his stablemaster established the stable in February 2004.[10] He fell short with a 5–10 record, and withdrew from the following tournament in March with only three wins due to pain in his right ankle.[1] He returned to the komusubi rank in September 2018 and secured a winning record. Shortly after this tournament his stable was dissolved and he moved to Chiganoura stable, now renamed Tokiwayama stable.[1]

First tournament championship and ōzeki promotion

The 2018 Kyushu tournament in November saw many withdrawals due to injury (kyūjō). Neither yokozuna Hakuhō nor yokozuna Kakuryū competed. Komusubi Kaisei also withdrew from contention with an injury. Takakeishō started the tournament well going undefeated the first six days including wins over yokozuna Kisenosato on Day 1, and ōzeki Gōeidō on Day 2. He suffered his first lost on Day 7 to sekiwake Mitakeumi. He then proceeded to win the next six days including a win over ōzeki Tochinoshin on Day 9, before suffering his second loss to ōzeki Takayasu on Day 14, with the result that both rikishi entered the final day tied with two losses each. Takakeishō won his final bout against Nishikigi, ensuring that he was either assured victory or a playoff with Takayasu if the ōzeki won his final bout. But instead Takakeishō watched as the same wrestler who handed him his first loss, Mitakeumi, guaranteed him his first top division championship by defeating Takayasu in the final bout. With just 26 career tournaments under his belt this victory tied him with yokozuna Akebono for fourth fastest all time from debut to winning a top division championship. At 22 years of age he was the sixth youngest top division championship winner since the six tournaments per year system began in 1958.[11] The win also meant that Takakeishō has won championships in all but the sandanme division in his career.

Takakeishō followed up with an 11–4 record in January 2019, winning the Technique Prize. This gave him a record of 33 wins over the last three tournaments, but he was not promoted to ōzeki due to a combination of his failure to win more than nine victories in September, and his one-sided loss to ōzeki Gōeidō on the final day.[12] In March he entered the penultimate day with a record of 9-4, including wins over Kakuryū and Takayasu, but was quickly defeated by Ichinojō. On the final day he was matched against Tochinoshin who needed a win to preserve his ōzeki rank. Takakeisho dominated the bout and pushed his opponent out to win by oshi-dashi.[13] Reports in Japan declared it a certainty that he would be promoted to ōzeki,[14] and at a press conference in Higashiōsaka he spoke of his relief at earning promotion after missing out in January.[15] The Sumo Association made the ōzeki promotion official on 27 March 2019, and delivered the news to Takakeishō at a press conference in Osaka.[16] "I will respect the bushidō spirit," he said in his acceptance speech, "and be thoughtful and thankful at all times while devoting myself to the way of the sumo."[16] After his promotion ceremony, Takakeishō thanked his parents Kazuya and Junko Sato for supporting him, and promised to repay them through sumo.[17] He said that reaching the rank of ōzeki is "a childhood dream," but that "there's a higher rank in the banzuke."[17] He made ōzeki in 28 tournaments after his professional debut, which is the sixth fastest rise since the six-tournament a year system was established in 1958. At 22 years and seven months he was also the ninth youngest to be promoted to ōzeki.[18]

Ōzeki career

Takakeishō withdrew on the fifth day of his debut ōzeki tournament in May 2019 due to a right knee injury,[19] only to return to the tournament on Day 8 and fight one more bout before pulling out again the following day after damaging ligaments in the same knee. He became the first ōzeki since 15-day tournaments began in 1949 to withdraw from a tournament twice.[20] On 4 July it was announced that Takakeisho's injury had not fully healed and that he would not compete in that month's upcoming Nagoya tournament, meaning that he would drop back to sekiwake in September. His stablemaster, former Takamisugi Takakatsu commented "He's still young with his future ahead of him. Had he wrestled... there was a big possibility his condition could worsen. If your legs go, you have to give up your sumo career. If his leg heals, he can come back stronger".[21]

On Day 12 of the September tournament, Takakeishō earned his tenth win against Myōgiryū, securing his promotion back to ōzeki for the upcoming November tournament.[22] He entered the final day on 11-3, tied for the lead with Okinoumi and Mitakeumi. He quickly defeated Okinoumi and then entered a play-off against Mitakeumi, whom he had already defeated on day 8. After a strong tachi-ai he retreated and went for a pull-down win but was forced out by his opponent.[23] He suffered a left pectoral muscle strain during the tachi-ai, requiring six weeks of rest.[24] He resumed light training on October 11,[25] and got through the November 2019 Kyushu tournament with a 9–6 record, losing the last match of the tournament to Hakuhō in a bout lasting over a minute. Hakuhō commented that Takakeishō was "just the harbinger of strong young wrestlers yet to come who will represent the sumo world well."[26]

Takakeishō finished the January 2020 basho with a record of 11-4. He entered the final day of the March tournament with a record of 7-7 but lost to Asanoyama. A kadoban ōzeki in the next tournament in July 2020, he secured a winning record of eight wins on Day 11 to retain his rank, but then withdrew from the remainder of the tournament to rest a medial collateral ligament injury in his left leg.[27] He then came back strong in September, finishing as the runner-up to Shōdai with a 12–3 record, his first runner-up performance as an ōzeki.[28]

The November 2020 basho started without both yokozuna and with two ōzeki withdrawing in the first five days, leaving Takakeishō as the only remaining ōzeki in the tournament and the highest ranked in the field. After winning his first eight matches in a row, he faced Terunofuji on the final day, while leading the tournament with a 13-1 record. Although he lost that match, the two faced off again in a playoff, which Takakeishō won to earn his second top division championship, his first as an ōzeki.[29] Takakeishō also had the most wins in 2020 out of any wrestler, with 51.[30]

Takakeishō had been aiming for promotion to yokozuna in the January 2021 tournament, but the opportunity was all but gone after losing his first four matches.[31] After just two wins in nine days, he withdrew on day 10 as a result of an ankle injury[32], facing demotion from his rank in the March tournament, where he secured a 10-5 winning record, allowing him to stay an ozeki.

Fighting style

Takakeishō specializes in pushing and thrusting techniques (tsuki/oshi). He regularly wins by oshi-dashi (push out) and hataki-komi (slap down).

Personal life

In August 2020 Takakeishō announced his engagement to fashion model Yukina Chiba. She is the daughter of former ōzeki Hokuten'yū.[33]

Career record

Takakeishō Mitsunobu [6]
Year in sumo January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
Haru basho, Osaka
Natsu basho, Tokyo
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
Aki basho, Tokyo
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
2014 x x x x (Maezumo) West Jonokuchi #18

2015 East Jonidan #10

East Sandanme #18
East Makushita #55
West Makushita #27
West Makushita #21
West Makushita #7
2016 West Makushita #13
East Makushita #9

East Jūryō #13
West Jūryō #6
East Jūryō #9
West Jūryō #3

2017 East Maegashira #12
East Maegashira #13
West Maegashira #7
West Maegashira #1
West Maegashira #5
West Maegashira #1
2018 East Komusubi #1
West Maegashira #3
West Maegashira #10
West Maegashira #3
West Komusubi #1
East Komusubi #1
2019 East Sekiwake #1
East Sekiwake #1
East Ōzeki #2
East Ōzeki #2
Sat out due to injury
West Sekiwake #1
East Ōzeki #2
2020 East Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #1
Tournament Cancelled
East Ōzeki #1
West Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #1
2021 East Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #2

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


  1. ^ a b c d "Takakeisho overcame scandal, many challenges to win 1st grand sumo title". Mainichi Shimbun. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "SUMO/ Father's push for feeding frenzies makes winner of Takakeisho". Asahi Shimbun. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Fall tournament topics pg 108". Baseball Magazine. May 2014.
  4. ^ "Kyushu tournament topics pg 69". Baseball Magazine. Dec 2014.
  5. ^ "Takanohana stable hope takes jonokuchi title". Nikkan sports. Retrieved 8 February 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c "Takakeisho Mitsunobu Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2017-02-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Takanohana stable's Sato takes juryo title, promoted to makuuchi, will take ring name of Takakeisho". Sports Sunday. Retrieved 8 February 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Sumo: Ozeki Goeido remains alone at the top in Tokyo". The Mainichi. 19 September 2017. Archived from the original on 19 September 2017. Retrieved 19 September 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Hakuho finishes year strong". Yomiuri Shimbun. 26 November 2017.
  10. ^ "2018 January Grand Sumo Tournament Banzuke Topics". Japan Sumo Association. January 2018. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018.
  11. ^ "SUMO/ Takakeisho wins 1st championship at Kyushu basho at only 22". Asahi Shimbun. 25 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Tamawashi secures first title by beating Endo on final day". The Japan Times. 27 January 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Perfect Hakuho captures 42nd title". 24 March 2019 – via Japan Times Online.
  14. ^ "SUMO/ Hakuho outduels Kakuryu in tough final to claim record 42nd title". Asahi Shimbun. 24 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Sumo: Arm injury sours Hakuho's record-extending 42nd title". The Mainichi. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ a b "Sumo: Takakeisho promoted to ozeki, sport's 2nd-highest rank". Kyodo News. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Sumo: Promise to parents keeps new ozeki Takakeisho pushing forward". Kyodo News. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Sumo: Takakeisho promoted to ozeki, sport's 2nd-highest rank". The Mainichi. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Sumo: New ozeki Takakeisho withdraws from Summer tourney due to injury". The Mainichi. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ "SUMO/ Ozeki Takakeisho withdraws from tournament, this time for good". Asahi Shimbun. 20 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "Takakeisho pulls out of Nagoya Basho". July 4, 2019 – via Japan Times Online.
  22. ^ "Takakeisho moves ahead of the pack". The Japan Times. September 19, 2019. Retrieved September 19, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ "Sumo: Mitakeumi wins 2nd title after sekiwake playoff with Takakeisho". Kyodo News.
  24. ^ "Sumo: Takakeisho's triumphant ozeki return spoiled by injury". The Mainichi. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ "Sumo: Kakuryu tops rankings as Takakeisho makes ozeki return". Kyodo News. 28 October 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Sumo: Hakuho puts final winning touch on 43rd championship". The Mainichi. 24 November 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. ^ "Sumo: Ozeki Takakeisho out of July tourney after avoiding demotion". The Mainichi. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  28. ^ "Sumo: Takakeisho gunning for yokozuna nod after winning 2nd title". Kyodo. 23 November 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  29. ^ "SUMO/ Takakeisho takes playoff for first tournament win as ozeki". Asashi Shimbun. 22 November 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  30. ^ "Lone Ozeki rises to the occasion". NHK World-Japan. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  31. ^ "Sumo: Takakeisho all but out of yokozuna hunt with 4th loss in row". Kyodo. 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  32. ^ "Sumo: Ozeki Takakeisho withdraws from New Year meet". Kyodo. 19 January 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  33. ^ "貴景勝、元大関北天佑の次女と婚約 「ジャンクスポーツ」で共演". Sanspo (in Japanese). 30 August 2020. Retrieved 31 August 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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