Terunofuji Haruo

Terunofuji Haruo
照ノ富士 春雄
Terunofuji 2014.jpg
Terunofuji in 2014
Personal information
Born Gantulga Gan-Erdene
(1991-11-29) November 29, 1991 (age 29)
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolian People's Republic
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 173 kg (381 lb; 27 st 3 lb)
Career
Stable MagakiIsegahama
Current rank see below
Debut January, 2011
Highest rank Ōzeki (July, 2015)
Championships 2 Makuuchi
2 Jūryō
1 Makushita
Special Prizes Fighting Spirit (3)
Outstanding Performance (2)
Technique (3)
* Up to date as of 24 January 2021.

Terunofuji Haruo (Japanese: 照ノ富士 春雄, born 29 November 1991 as Gantulgyn Gan-Erdene (Mongolian: Гантулгын Ган-Эрдэнэ)) is a Mongolian professional sumo wrestler from Ulaanbaatar who wrestles for the Isegahama stable. He entered sumo in January 2011, and took the second division jūryō championship in his debut as a sekitori in September 2013. He took the top makuuchi division championship in May 2015, only 25 tournaments after his professional debut, which is third behind the renowned Asashōryū and Takanohana's 23 tournaments.[1] This earned him promotion to sumo's second highest rank of ōzeki. He has been runner-up in four other tournaments, and has four special prizes for Fighting Spirit and Outstanding Performance.

Terunofuji has suffered from knee injuries and having survived being kadoban or in danger of demotion from the rank of ōzeki on three previous occasions he was finally demoted after the September 2017 tournament. After a long injury layoff he fell to the second lowest jonidan division in 2019 but staged a successful comeback and returned to the makuuchi division after the March 2020 tournament, the first wrestler to do so from such a low rank. Due to the May 2020 Natsu tournament being cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Terunofuji's first tournament back in makuuchi ended up being the July 2020 Nagoya tournament. Terunofuji won the basho with a 13-2 record, thus claiming his second top division championship.

Early life and sumo background

In childhood, Gan-Erdene was coached in judo by the father of yokozuna Hakuhō, but, his coach saw in him a predisposition for sumo and helped arrange for him to move to Japan as a student at Tottori Johoku High School to join its well-known sumo program. Future top division wrestler Ichinojō travelled with him and joined the same school. (He continued his rivalry with Ichinojō into the professional ranks, remarking in 2015, "What matters is who will make it to the ozeki rank first."[2] As a third year student, Gan-Erdene's team took the championship at a national inter-high school sumo tournament.

Career

Early career

Upon graduating, he chose to turn professional and joined Magaki stable. He entered the ring in the same tournament as soon to be well-known Chiyotairyū and Jōkōryū. Upon entering he was given the shikona surname of Wakamishō (若三勝). From his first pro tournament in July 2011 he excelled, posting only three losses in three tournaments and spending only one tournament in each of the lower divisions of jonokuchi, jonidan and sandanme. In his sandanme tournament in November 2011, he had a perfect 7–0 record and participated in a playoff for the championship, which he lost to the aforementioned Jōkōryū, then still known as Sakumayama. From his third division makushita debut in January 2012, he had three consecutive 5–2 records before posting two consecutive losing tournaments in July and September 2012, the only two of his career up to that point. He bounced back from this in the following November tournament, garnering a 4–3 record. For the next four tournaments his success continued and he never had more than two losses in any tournament. During the period, his stable closed, and he transferred to Isegahama stable. He had become frustrated with a lack of training opportunities at the small Magaki stable,[3] as with the ill health of his stablemaster and various scandals there were sometimes no other coaches or wrestlers present.[4] At Isegahama by contrast he was able to practice with many higher ranked wrestlers to improve his technique. His 6–1 record at makushita 4 in July 2013 was enough to earn him promotion to the salaried ranks of jūryō in September 2013.

Upon entering jūryō he changed his shikona surname to Terunofuji, a combination of two former yokozuna, Terukuni and Asahifuji (his own stablemaster), and a reflection of the high expectations placed on him.[2] He took the jūryō championship in his debut tournament, beating future maegashira Kagamiō on the last day to even their records and forcing a playoff bout against Kagamiō, which he also won. This success followed in the footsteps of the popular Endō who in the previous tournament also took the jūryō championship in his debut in said division. An 8–7 record in the following November tournament and an even more impressive 12–3 record against a host of wrestlers with makuuchi experience in the January 2014 tournament earned him promotion to the top makuuchi division in March 2014.

Makuuchi division

His debut in the makuuchi division looked to be a disaster, and he had only a 2–7 record on the 9th day. However, from then on he won 6 straight bouts in 6 days to pull out a kachi-koshi or winning tournament. Then in the following May tournament he started out with an unpromising 4–6 record, but then won 5 straight to finish with a strong showing of 9–6. Two tournaments later in the September 2014 tournament at maegashira 1 he was up against top notch competition, including several san'yaku or titled wrestlers, and he only managed to eke out a 6–9 record. This was only his third make-koshi or losing record in a tournament in his career and his first in the salaried rank. He only fell to maegashira 2 though, being helped by bad showings from several other wrestlers. It was in this tournament in November 2014 that he truly began to show his mettle in the top division; after going only 4–6, he beat an ōzeki and two sekiwake in the last 5 days to pull off an 8–7. In the January 2015, he defeated the ōzeki Gōeidō and Kisenosato, the sekiwake Aoiyama and both active komusubi on the way to an 8–7 record. He was awarded the Fighting Spirit Prize, his first special prize.

He was promoted to the rank of sekiwake for the next tournament. In the March Grand Tournament of 2015, he defeated yokozuna Hakuhō (unbeaten in his last 36 matches) for the first time in four meetings, and finished runner-up with a 13–2 record, having also defeated both komusubi as well as the ōzeki Gōeidō and Kotoshōgiku. He received his second Fighting Spirit Prize and was also awarded the prize for Outstanding Performance. After his final contest he said "I’ll shoot for double-digit wins at the next tournament and hopefully that will lead to victory. Now I just want to take a long rest".[5] In May Terunofuji was beaten on the opening day of the Natsu basho by Sadanoumi, but won his next seven including victories over both komusubi and the ōzeki Kotoshōgiku. After defeats by Tokushōryū on day nine and Hakuhō on day eleven he recovered to win his next three matches including victories over Kisenosato and the sekiwake Myōgiryū to enter the final day in a tie for first place with Hakuhō. In his final match he defeated the Bulgarian maegashira Aoiyama by yori-kiri or force-out, and then saw Hakuhō lose to Harumafuji. The result was that Terunofuji, in his eighth top-division tournament, was handed his first championship with a 12–3 record and was awarded the Fighting Spirit Prize for the third time. Terunofuji admitted that he had been "almost in tears" at the conclusion of the tournament and said, "When I was 15 years old I watched sumo and wanted to become a sumo wrestler and so came to Japan. It was a dream of mine to win the championship. To actually win it is like a dream." A few days after the tournament, Terunofuj's official promotion to ōzeki was announced in a press conference.[6] He was the first to be promoted to ōzeki having previously spent only two tournaments in sanyaku since Yoshibayama 64 years earlier. As Yoshibayama's promotion came before the six-tournaments per year system, Terunofuji was the first to be promoted after only four months in sanyaku.[7]

Ōzeki

On his first appearance at his new rank Terunofuji won nine of his first ten matches to reach a tie for the lead, but losses to Hakuhō, Kakuryū and Kotoshōgiku saw him end the tournament with an 11–4 record. In September he won his first eleven matches to establish a clear lead over the opposition, but then lost to Tochiōzan and Kisenosato, sustaining a knee injury in the latter match. Another loss to Gōeidō saw him enter the final day with eleven wins, one behind the yokozuna Kakuryū. In the final scheduled match on day 15 Terunofuji defeated Kakuryū to level their scores but lost the ensuing play-off.[8] Terunofuji's knee injury continued to trouble him in November but he posted nine wins including victories over the yokozuna Kakuryū and Hakuhō.

In January 2016 Terunofuji won three of his first five bouts before withdrawing from the tournament with a broken right collar bone and damaged meniscus in his left knee, after a bout with Kyokushūhō.[9] This was the first withdrawal of his career.[9] He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee shortly afterwards.[10] Despite his injury problems he announced that he would contest the next tournament in March,[9] where he was kadoban, or in danger of demotion from ōzeki rank. In March 2016, Terunofuji still seemed well below his best, but maintained his rank with eight wins. In May however his form slumped as he lost his last thirteen matches to end with a career-worst record of 2–13. He just managed to preserve his rank on the final day of the following Nagoya tournament by defeating Kaisei for an 8–7 record,[11] but was kadoban yet again after recording only four wins in September. In November 2016 things didn't look good as he was kadoban and under danger of demotion if he failed to secure at least eight wins in the tournament. Things didn't start off on the right foot as he lost his first two matches, however things took a turn as he proceeded to win the next seven in a row including a win over fellow ōzeki Kotoshōgiku. Terunofuji then had two losses against Kakuryū and Gōeidō, but was able to get his winning record on day 12 against Hakuhō which erased his kadoban status and secured his rank. Terunofuji did however go on to lose the remaining three days of the tournament ending with an 8–7 record. 2016 was a hard year for Terunofuji, with the lack of strength and flexibility in his knees affecting his performances.[10] He was kadoban three times, but was able to hold on to his rank each time by getting a winning record in the following tournament.

The January 2017 tournament didn't bode well for Terunofuji as he managed only four wins, making him kadoban for the fourth time. The Osaka tournament in March saw a dramatic return to form as he won his first five matches before losing to Takayasu, and then won his next seven to take a share of the lead with a win over Kakuryū on Day 13. On Day 14 he became the sole leader after he defeated Kotoshōgiku and the injured Kisenosato lost to Kakuryū, but he was booed by the crowd for sidestepping his opponent at the initial charge.[10] He missed out on his second championship on the final day as he was defeated twice by Kisenosato, once in their regulation match and again in the resulting playoff.[12] The Japan Sumo Association was questioned by the government after the tournament when media reports suggested that Terunofuji was subjected to hate speech taunts from the crowd after his controversial win over Kotoshōgiku, with the expression "Go back to Mongolia" reportedly used.[13]

Terunofuji underwent endoscopic surgery on his left knee after the May 2017 tournament, but did not recover as well as expected.[14] He entered the Nayoga tournament in July but withdrew after four losses in the first five days, citing a meniscal injury to the knee.[15] The September tournament saw a repeat of Nagoya, with Terunofuji winning only one of his first five matches before he was forced to withdraw because of the knee injury, which he aggravated in a loss to Shōhōzan on Day 5.[16] Having failed to record a winning score in two consecutive tournaments he lost his ōzeki status after 14 tournaments at the rank.[16]

Injuries, Demotion and Comeback

Terunofuji could have made an immediate return to ōzeki with at least ten wins in the November 2017 tournament, but he withdrew on Day 5 after losing his first four matches, citing a meniscus tear in his left knee.[17] He withdrew from the January 2018 tournament on Day 3 after losing his first two bouts, due to a viscera disorder, and was demoted to jūryō as a result.[18] He is the fourth former ōzeki to fall to jūryō and the first since Baruto in 2013.[19] In March 2018 he completed a tournament for the first time since May of the previous year but could only score six wins against nine losses from jūryō 5. He withdrew from the May 2018 tournament on Day 4, but returned from Day 11 in an attempt to stave off demotion to makushita.[20] His stablemaster reported that in addition to diabetes and knee problems he was also suffering from kidney stones.[20] However he failed to win any matches on his return and was demoted to makushita. He was the first ōzeki and first top division tournament winner to fall to that division.[21] He had surgery on both knees on June 25 and withdrew from the July 2018 tournament, with his stablemaster indicating he wanted Terunofuji to have his knees healed properly before competing again.[22][23] He was also absent for the next three tournaments, which caused him to fall to the second-lowest jonidan division.[24] He returned to competition in March 2019 and won all seven of his matches, although he lost a playoff for the jonidan championship to fellow Mongolian Roga. This was his first appearance since May 2018, and his first winning record since May 2017. In his next three tournaments he lost just one bout in each, progressing to makushita 10 by November 2019. In the Kyushu tournament he won the makushita championship with a perfect 7–0 record,[25] ensuring his return to the sekitori ranks.

In his first tournament as a sekitori since May 2018, Terunofuji won his second consecutive yūshō by clinching the jūryō championship on Day 13 of the January tournament with 13 straight wins.[26] He lost his final two matches to Nishikigi and Daiamami, ending any outside hopes of immediate promotion back to makuuchi, and was ranked at jūryō 3 for the March 2020 tournament.[27]

Return to Makuuchi

In the March tournament, Terunofuji finished with a 10-5 record and earned promotion back to makuuchi, after 14 tournaments outside the top division.[24] He is the first top division wrestler to fall to jonidan and successfully return to makuuchi.[21] In the July tournament, Terunofuji continued his comeback by winning his second top-division yūshō with a 13-2 record. He secured the championship by defeating sekiwake Mitakeumi on the final day and also won the Technique and Outstanding Performance prizes as well.[28] The 30 tournaments between this victory and his previous yūshō in May 2015 is the second longest gap between top division championships after Kotonishiki's 43.[29] Speaking to reporters online following his victory, Terunofuji thanked his stablemaster, who convinced him to keep working on healing himself when Terunofuji had asked for permission to retire.[30] In the September 2020 tournament from maegashira 1 Terunofuji secured a winning record with eight wins, before withdrawing on Day 13 with a left knee injury.[31] He returned to the sanyaku ranks for the first time in three years at the November 2020 tournament. This was the first time he had been ranked as a komusubi.

Terunofuji continued to perform well at the November 2020 basho, going into the final day with a 12-2 record. This score put him one win behind ozeki Takakeisho in the yūshō race. Terunofuji faced Takakeisho on the final day, defeating him and bringing their scores level to force a yūshō playoff. However, Takakeisho won the playoff and claimed the championship. For his efforts, Terunofuji was awarded the ginō-shō or technique prize at the tournament's conclusion. He was the runner-up again in January 2021, when he defeated both the active ozeki and secured another ginō-shō.[32]

Fighting style

Terunofuji is a yotsu-sumo wrestler who favours grappling techniques as opposed to pushing and thrusting (oshi-sumo). His preferred grip on his opponent's mawashi or belt is migi-yotsu, a left hand outside, right hand inside position. His favourite winning kimarite or technique is a straightforward yori-kiri, or force out, which has accounted for over 40 percent of his career victories.[33] His style of wrestling has been criticized as being reckless as he likes to grab an opponent with both arms and swing them around, relying on his power, which increases the burden on his knees.[34]

Family

Terunofuji revealed in January 2021 that he was married to a Mongolian exchange student. They have known each other since before his ozeki promotion.[35]

Career record

Terunofuji Haruo [36]
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
2011 (Maezumo)
Tournament Cancelled
0–0–0
(Maezumo) East Jonokuchi #3
5–2
 
West Jonidan #59
6–1
 
East Sandanme #93
7–0–P
 
2012 East Makushita #58
5–2
 
West Makushita #39
5–2
 
West Makushita #27
5–2
 
East Makushita #15
3–4
 
West Makushita #21
2–5
 
West Makushita #37
4–3
 
2013 West Makushita #31
5–2
 
West Makushita #20
5–2
 
West Makushita #10
6–1
 
East Makushita #4
6–1
 
West Jūryō #11
12–3–P
Champion

 
East Jūryō #3
8–7
 
2014 West Jūryō #1
12–3
 
West Maegashira #10
8–7
 
East Maegashira #9
9–6
 
East Maegashira #6
9–6
 
East Maegashira #1
6–9
 
West Maegashira #3
8–7
 
2015 East Maegashira #2
8–7
F
East Sekiwake #1
13–2
OF
East Sekiwake #1
12–3
F
West Ōzeki #2
11–4
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
9–6
 
2016 West Ōzeki #1
3–3–9
 
West Ōzeki #2
8–7
 
West Ōzeki #2
2–13
 
West Ōzeki #2
8–7
 
West Ōzeki #1
4–11
 
West Ōzeki #2
8–7
 
2017 East Ōzeki #2
4–11
 
West Ōzeki #1
13–2–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
1–5–9
 
East Ōzeki #2
1–5–9
 
East Sekiwake #2
0–5–10
 
2018 East Maegashira #10
0–8–7
 
West Jūryō #5
6–9
 
East Jūryō #8
0–9–6
 
East Makushita #6
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
East Makushita #47
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Sandanme #27
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
2019 West Sandanme #88
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Jonidan #48
7–0–P
 
East Sandanme #49
6–1
 
East Makushita #59
6–1
 
East Makushita #27
6–1
 
West Makushita #10
7–0
Champion

 
2020 West Jūryō #13
13–2
Champion

 
East Jūryō #3
10–5
 
East Maegashira #17
Tournament Cancelled
0–0–0
East Maegashira #17
13–2
OT
East Maegashira #1
8–5–2
 
East Komusubi #1
13–2–P
T
2021 East Sekiwake #1
11–4
T
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. ^ Buckton, Mark (May 27, 2015). "Terunofuji could be sumo's next yokozuna". Japan Times. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Rising Mongolian Terunofuji emerges to shock sumo circles". Cibersumo. March 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  3. ^ Gunning, John (26 April 2017). "Emergence of new generation bodes well for Summer Basho". Japan Times. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  4. ^ Gunning, John (23 November 2019). "Terunofuji endured tough times to get back on track". Japan Times. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Hakuho captures 34th Emperor's Cup". The Japan Times. 22 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Terunofuji officially promoted to ōzeki, says he will keep aiming higher". Nikkan sports. 27 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Terunofuji promoted to ozeki after victory". Japan Times. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  8. ^ staff (27 September 2015). "Kakuryu bounces back to grab elusive 2nd title". The Japan News by Yomiuri Shimbun.
  9. ^ a b c "Terunofuji to enter Spring Basho". Japan Times. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "Leader Terunofuji bolsters title hopes". Japan Times. 25 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Harumafuji wins 8th title as yokozuna hopeful Kisenosato falls short". Kyodo News. 24 July 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  12. ^ "SUMO/ Injured Kisenosato wins debut tourney as yokozuna". Asahi Shimbun. 26 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Sumo association queried about hate speech taunts during spring tourney". Japan Times. 1 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Harumafuji may need to undergo elbow surgery". Japan Times. 27 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Sumo: Injured Kisenosato, Terunofuji withdraw from Nagoya basho". The Mainichi. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Sumo: Ozeki Terunofuji latest to withdraw from Autumn tourney". Kyodo News. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Sumo: Terunofuji withdraws from Kyushu meet, delays ozeki return". The Mainichi. 16 November 2017. Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  18. ^ "照ノ富士が4場所連続休場、伊勢ケ浜親方は「膝ではなく内臓系」" (in Japanese). Hochi. 16 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  19. ^ "2018 March Grand Sumo Tournament Banzuke Topics". Japan Sumo Association. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  20. ^ a b "照ノ富士、23日から再出場 十両残留には5戦5勝が必要" (in Japanese). daily.co.jp. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Sumo: Asanoyama steps up in summer rankings". The Mainichi. 27 April 2020. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  22. ^ "大相撲の照ノ富士が両膝を手術 名古屋場所は休場か" (in Japanese). daily.co.jp. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  23. ^ "幕下転落の照ノ富士は全休 両膝手術で入院中/名古屋場所" (in Japanese). Sanspo. 8 July 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Former ozeki Terunofuji draws strength from long battle back". Japan Times. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  25. ^ "2019 November Grand Sumo Tournament Champions List". Japan Sumo Association. Archived from the original on 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Title chase heats up at New Year Grand Sumo Tournament". japantimes.co.jp. The Japan Times. January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  27. ^ "Sumo: Asanoyama in position to fill ozeki vacancy". The Mainichi. 24 February 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Terunofuji caps dramatic comeback with second title". japantimes.co.jp. The Japan Times. August 2, 2020.
  29. ^ "照ノ富士が30場所ぶりV 7月場所、殊勲・技能賞も獲得". Nikkei (in Japanese). 2 August 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  30. ^ "SUMO/ Comeback kid Terunofuji says he didn't expect that many wins". Asahi Shimbun. 3 August 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  31. ^ "Sumo: Shodai downs Takakeisho, shares lead with Tobizaru at Autumn meet". The Mainichi. 25 September 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Sumo: Daieisho wins maiden Emperor's Cup on final day". The Mainichi. 24 January 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  33. ^ "Terunofuji bouts by kimarie". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  34. ^ Miki, Shuji (2 December 2017). "SUMO ABC (65) / Terunofuji needs to change his fighting style if he wants to continue". The Japan News. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  35. ^ "照ノ富士、復活支えたモンゴル人女性と結婚していた NHKの番組で明かす". Hochi. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  36. ^ "Terunofuji Haruo Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2014-05-31.

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