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Sumo News - February 19, 2001

Sekitoris Vacation in Ito
The first Rikishi-Kai (an association of rikishis
ranked Juryo and Makuuchi) event under the new
Chairman Yokozuna Takanohana was held on February 19
at Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture.  Takanohana assumed the
chairmanship when the previous chairman Akebono

The travel 'event' was the first in 30 years since
June of 1971.  All sekitoris except ozeki Chiyotaikai 
who is recovering from an injury made the trip to Ito,
a well known resort area in Japan.

"Soken" Open to Public
The Kyokai announced the  "Soken" (Rikishi Training
Observation) by the Yokozuna Selection Committee will 
be open to public once again at this May Basho.  It
will be held at the Kokugikan on May 6 and the
admission is free.  

Last year soon after the doors were opened at 7 AM
there were over 4,500 fans arrived in the Kokugikan to
see the training matches by higher ranking Makuuchis,
sanyakus, ozekis and yokozunas. 

"Again this year we'd like to have as many fans as
possible come over to see the rikishis preparing
themselves for the 'Hon-basho'", commented a Kyokai

Kitamura Officially Joins Hanaregoma Beya
Masaakki Kitamura, 22, from the famed Nichi-Dai Sumo
Club had a news conference to announce he has formally
joined Hanaregoma Beya. Kitamura is the first college
rikishi to join the heya. "He has a good bounce.  I am
looking forward to him getting bigger," Hanaregoma 
oyakata (former ozeki Kaiketsu) said.   

Hanaregoyama oyakata has been following Kitamura's
progress since he has been a high schooler at
Yamaguchi Fisheries High School.  As Kitamura did 
not win any notable tournaments while he was at
Nichi-Dai, he will be starting from Mae-zumo this Haru

Secondary Recruit Clinic Application Closes
The Kyokai closed the application requests for the
secondary new recruit physical clinic to be held on
February 21.  There were 17 applications ranging from
junior high school graduates to a young adult 22 years

This is the first time the secondary clinic is held
for those who initially fail to meet the Kyokai
physical standard of 173 cm tall and 75 kg weight.  
The secondary physical requirement is 167 cm tall and
67 kg and they would go through 8 different physical
tests such as handball throwing, 50 meter dash and
hand strength.  

"I am simply delighted to see so many young men
wanting to join the sumo world.  I believe this will
lead to its revitalization," said Tokitsukaze oyakata.

Makushita Tsukedashi Qualification Changes 
At their Directors meeting held on February 19, the
Kyokai announced that they would be slightly modifying
their 'Makushita Tsukedashi' criteria. 

Prior to now, a Tsukedashi qualifier must be at least
20 years old but now they can qualify from the time
when they can expect to graduate from a junior high
school (around the age of 15 years old).  The upper
limit is still set at 25 years old.        

To qualify for the Makusita Tsukedashi ranking, a new
recruit will require to win at least one of the four
major amateur sumo tournaments such as All Japan Sumo
Championship and All Japan Student Championship in the
preceding year. 

The reason the Kyokai changed the lower age limit is 
now a junior or high school student can enter some of
these championships. Another criteria they changed was
the rule that the qualifier must start competing
before their school year is over.  Since Japanese
school year ends in March, they needed to start
competing by the Haru Basho. The Kyokai re-set this
period to one year after they won one of the major
This rule change has already made a significant effect
to Toru Kakizoe who joined Musashigawa Beya from Nihon
Taiiku University but in all likelihood will miss the
Haru Basho due to an injury.  He has already been
given the Makushita 15 designation by the Kyokai but
only if he made the dohyo debut by the Haru Basho as
the time will have run out at the end of March.  

Now the new rule means he has until November before he
loses the designation and he does not need to start
from Mae-zumo if he can compete by the Kyushu Basho.  

Kyokai Empowers Chairman
Separately the Kyokai announced that they have given a
special power to the Chairman in emergency situations
to handle and hand out a disciplinary action to the

They note that it became evident in the Toki case that
there were no specific ways to address "disgraceful or
scandalous" conduct by its members when the Kyokai
needed to react quickly, especially by the Chairman.

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