Ura Kazuki

Ura Kazuki
宇良 和輝
Ura Kazuki 2017.jpg
Ura in 2017
Personal information
Born Kazuki Ura
(1992-06-22) 22 June 1992 (age 28)
Neyagawa, Osaka, Japan
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9+12 in)
Weight 143 kg (315 lb)
Career
Stable Kise
University Kwansei Gakuin University
Current rank see below
Debut March 2015
Highest rank Maegashira 4 (July 2017)
Championships 1 Jonokuchi
1 Jonidan
2 Sandanme
Gold Stars 1 (Harumafuji)
* Up to date as of April 27, 2021.
Medal record
Men's Sumo
Representing  Japan
World Combat Games
Gold medal – first place 2013 St. Petersburg Lightweight

Ura Kazuki (Japanese: 宇良 和輝, born 22 June 1992) is a Japanese professional sumo wrestler from Neyagawa, Osaka. After winning a gold medal in sumo at the 2013 World Combat Games, he made his professional debut in 2015, wrestling with the Kise stable and he won the jonokuchi division championship in his first tournament. He reached the top makuuchi division in March 2017. In July 2017 he reached his highest rank, of maegashira 4, but he has only just returned after two extended injury layoffs caused his rank to plummet. He has a kinboshi, or gold star, for defeating a yokozuna. His unpredictable style has made him a favourite with tournament crowds.[1]

Amateur career

While attending the School of Education, Kwansei Gakuin University, Ura was a member of the sumo club.[2] He competed in sumo at the 2013 World Combat Games at Saint Petersburg, Russia, winning a gold medal in the lightweight division.[2]

Professional career

In February 2015, he announced his intention to enter the Kise stable as a professional sumo wrestler,[2] and after his first bouts in March, made his tournament debut in the May basho, winning the jonokuchi division.[3] He again performed well in the July tournament, posting a 7–0 record and losing a playoff for the jonidan division championship. After going 5–2 in the sandamne division in September, he finished the year with a 7–0 record as a makushita debutante, again losing a division championship playoff in November.

Ura began 2016 with a 6–1 record and another makushita playoff loss in January. Also going 6–1 in March, he was promoted to jūryō for the next tournament. In recognition of becoming the first among their alumni to achieve sekitori (the two highest divisions in sumo) rank, he was given a keshō-mawashi by Kwansei Gakuin University.[4] He finished the May tournament 10–5 and with a 11–4 finish in the July tournament, he entered the September event as the top-ranked jūryō, but he went 6–9, his first losing record, having fractured a bone in his left wrist that required post-tournament surgery.[5] On his return, he posted a 8–7 record in the November tournament.

His overall 11–4 record in the January 2017 tournament led to his promotion to the top makuuchi division and a rank of maegashira 12. In March 2017, before a home crowd in Osaka, he achieved a winning record (kachi-koshi) of 8–7, and entered the May 2017 tournament at maegashira 10. There he scored eleven wins against four losses in this tournament, but did not receive a special prize for his efforts, despite speculation that he would win the Technique Award. Former yokozuna Kitanofuji, commentating for NHK, expressed his surprise at the omission.[6] Still, his performance earned him a career-high ranking of maegashira 4 for the July 2017 tournament. There he got off to a 5–1 start, but then injuries among those ranked above him shifted him to a more challenging schedule, facing the san'yaku, the foremost wrestlers, for the first time. Though he defeated Harumafuji on Day 9 to earn his first kinboshi or gold star for a win over a yokozuna,[7] he injured his knee in a defeat to ozeki Takayasu on the following day, and he lost four of his remaining five matches to finish with a make-koshi 7–8 record.

Injury problems and returns

Ura withdrew from the summer regional tour that followed the July 2017 tournament, citing damaged right knee ligaments, and indicated he would need a month's rest to recover.[8] He returned for the September tournament, but exacerbated his injury on the second day and was forced to withdraw,[9] with reports indicating a right knee anterior cruciate ligament injury and a left knee meniscus injury that would require surgery.[10] With the subsequent extended rehabilitation,[11] he only returned to the competition a year later at the September 2018 contest, having dropped three divisions in the rankings to near the bottom of sandanme. In this tournament he went 6–1 to stop his slide, and followed that with an undefeated 7–0 record and sandamne division championship in the November 2018 tournament. This returned him to makushita for the January 2019 contest, but he re-injured his right-knee ligament on day 10 and withdrew from the remainder of the tournament.[12]

He underwent surgery again in late February 2019, requiring another extended recovery period,[13] from which he only returned the following November, having dropped to the bottom of jonidan, his lowest rank since his debut tournament. He achieved a 6–1 record in this first tournament back, and in the following tournament in January 2020, from the rank of jonidan 28, an undefeated 7–0 record and a playoff victory earned Ura the division championship. Fighting at the rank of sandanme 30 at the March tournament, Ura won his second straight division championship with another perfect 7–0 record and a playoff win. This result earned him a return to makushita for the July tournament (the May tournament having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), and he extended his winning streak to 18 matches before finishing at 6–1 and earning a spot in the upper ranks of makushita, where another 6–1 in September elevated him back to jūryō after 15 tournaments in lower divisions. He is only the second former top division wrestler after Terunofuji to fall as far as jonidan and make a return to jūryō,[14] earning 9–6 and 10–5 records on his first two tournaments back in November 2020 and January 2021, respectively. In the March 2021 tournament he reached 6–2 on Day 8 after a win over another fan favorite, Enhō, a highly-anticipated first match between the two in professional sumo,[15] but a minor injury Ura suffered in the contest forced his withdrawal from the next two days of the tournament,[16] before returning to gain 4 additional wins.

Style

He is predominantly a pusher, but the unpredictability of his improvisational style that responds to opponents' moves has made him popular.[17] Ura has been called "agile as a gymnast"[17] and his bouts acrobatic.[1] His favourite techniques as listed in his Japan Sumo Association profile include oshi pushing/thrusting techniques as well as the rare ashitori (leg grab), and he has also drawn notice for performing other rare winning techniques. In the May 2016 tournament, he won a jūryō bout by koshinage, a hip throw.[18] He employed another rare winning technique at the January 2017 tournament, tasukizori (reverse backward body drop), against fellow jūryō wrestler, Amakaze, its first instance in sumo's upper divisions since 1955 when winning techniques were first announced.[19] In the November 2020 tournament he deployed two unusual techniques. On the fifth day he used izori to defeat Kyokushūhō, the first time the move had been seen at sekitori level since Tomonohana used it against Hananokuni in September 1993. Tomonohana (now Tamagaki Oyakata) was at the ringside in his role as a judge to see Ura's win.[20] On the fourteenth day of the same tournament Ura defeated Azumaryū with the rare ushiromotare, or "backward lean out," which brought cheers from the crowd when the technique was announced.[21]

When he first entered the professional ranks Ura's weight was listed as 113 kg (249 lb),[22] but by May 2017 he had bulked up to 137 kg (302 lb) and by March 2021 to 143 kg (315 lb), heavier than the other 'small' sekitori such as Ishiura, Terutsuyoshi, Tobizaru and Enhō. When he first became a sekitori, he displeased some sumo elders as one of several younger wrestlers bucking tradition by choosing colorful mawashi over the traditional brown or black, in his case opting for deep pink.[17][23]

Career record

Ura Kazuki [24]
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
2015 x (Maezumo) West Jonokuchi #9
7–0
Champion

 
East Jonidan #10
7–0–P
 
West Sandanme #18
5–2
 
West Makushita #54
7–0–P
 
2016 West Makushita #6
6–1–P
 
West Makushita #2
6–1
 
West Jūryō #13
10–5
 
West Jūryō #8
11–4
 
East Jūryō #1
6–9
 
East Jūryō #5
8–7
 
2017 East Jūryō #3
11–4
 
West Maegashira #12
8–7
 
West Maegashira #10
11–4
 
East Maegashira #4
7–8
West Maegashira #4
1–2–12
 
West Maegashira #16
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
2018 East Jūryō #11
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
West Makushita #10
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Makushita #50
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Sandanme #30
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
East Sandanme #91
6–1
 
East Sandanme #33
7–0
Champion

 
2019 West Makushita #23
2–3–2
 
West Makushita #36
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Sandanme #16
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Sandanme #76
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Jonidan #36
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
West Jonidan #106
6–1
 
2020 East Jonidan #28
7–0–P
Champion

 
West Sandanme #30
7–0–P
Champion

 
East Makushita #19
Tournament Cancelled
0–0–0
East Makushita #19
6–1
 
West Makushita #5
6–1
 
East Jūryō #13
9–6
 
2021 East Jūryō #10
10–5
 
East Jūryō #7
10–4–1
 
East Jūryō #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

References

  1. ^ a b Miki, Shuji (5 May 2017). "SUMO ABC (50) / Do rikishi from the college ranks ever shine in the top ranks?". The Japan News. Yomiuri Shimbun. Tokyo.
  2. ^ a b c "First sumo wrestler from KGU to turn professional!" (Press release). Kwansei Gakuin University Public Relations Office. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Kangakudai Shūshin Hatsu no Rikishi, Ura ga Jonokuchi Yūshō 「Shinjirarenai. Sunao ni Yorokobitai」" 関学大出身初の力士, 宇良が序ノ口優勝 「信じられない。素直に喜びたい」 [Ura, the first professional sumo wrestler to come out of Kwansei Gakuin University, wins the Jonokuchi championship. Says "It's unbelievable" and that "I just want to enjoy the moment".]. Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). 22 May 2015. Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  4. ^ "KGU's first sumo wrestler Ura presented with a kesho-mawashi (ceremonial apron)" (Press release). Kwansei Gakuin University Public Relations Office. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  5. ^ "宇良11勝も三賞逃す…取り口技能でなく異能扱い" (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports. 29 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  6. ^ "宇良が骨折手術、秋場所で左手甲痛め秋巡業全休へ" (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Hakuho equals legendary yokozuna Chiyonofuji with 1,045th career victory". Japan Times. 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  8. ^ "宇良が夏巡業から離脱…右膝の外側靱帯を痛める" (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Sumo: Ozeki Takayasu, maegashira Ura withdraw from Autumn tourney". The Mainichi. 12 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  10. ^ "九州場所、鶴竜、貴ノ岩ら4人が休場" (in Japanese). Hochi. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  11. ^ "宇良6場所連続休場 木瀬親方は万全の状態での再起強調「2度と同じケガはさせたくない」" (in Japanese). daily.co.jp. 8 July 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Absent Rikishi Information". Japan Sumo Association. Archived from the original on 23 January 2019.
  13. ^ ""業師"宇良が右膝再手術 靱帯断裂、長期離脱へ 木瀬親方「完璧にして戻す」" (in Japanese). Sanspo. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  14. ^ "2020 November Grand Sumo Tournament Banzuke Topics". Japan Sumo Association. Archived from the original on 27 October 2020. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  15. ^ "SUMO/ Small vs. small matchup comes up big with the spectators". Asahi Shimbun. 22 March 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "宇良11日目から再出場 炎鵬戦で左ふくらはぎ負傷". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). 23 March 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ a b c Shoji, Kaori (7 November 2016). "Strength and tradition draw women back to sumo world". Tokyo: The Japan News.
  18. ^ "Grand Sumo Summer Tournament – Day 10". GettyImages. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Sumo: Juryo wrestler Ura employs another rare technique". GettyImages. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  20. ^ "玉垣親方「おっ」目の前で宇良が弟子に居反りも感慨". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). 18 November 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  21. ^ "珍手「後ろもたれ」で9勝目の宇良、場内どよめきと拍手 それでも「自分の思惑通りでは…」(Ura's 9th win with the rare hand "back leaning", screaming and applauding in the hall)". Sponichi (in Japanese). 21 November 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  22. ^ Gould, Chris (4 May 2017). "A New Champion Appears: A Japanese sumo wrestler reclaims the grand title". Tokyo: MetropolisJapan.com. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  23. ^ Shearing, Hazel (13 November 2016). "Sumo throws a wobbly as young stars ditch tradition". The Times. London. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Sumo reference".

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