Amateur Angles #3
fact, most of the non-Japanese participants at this competition would
have been training in sumo for less than two years, and many for far
less time than that. A case in point was the surprise package for the
tournament – New Zealand!
Visesio Sakalia, weighing in at just over 100 kg (220 lbs), took silver in the heavyweight competition. Mark Tanu, a 16-year-old weighing 190kg (419 lbs), and with surprising speed, took bronze in the openweight competition, losing only to Sakuma, the eventual winner. Oscar Vaioa, the NZ middleweight came in a respectable 5th equal. These boys come from a rugby background, were only introduced to sumo at the beginning of the year, and had only participated in one tournament, way back in April. Apart from that, it was sumo training perhaps twice a week amongst themselves and with a few adults to compete against. If the same exposure to sumo that the Japanese athletes have was carried over into other countries, then the results would be very different!
7th Junior Sumo World Championships Results
Lightweight (-80kg, -176 lbs)
1. Nachyn Mongush (Russia)
2. Masakatsu Ishiura (Japan)
3. Igor Ciurilov (Moldova) and Banzragch Baatar (Mongolia)
I can safely say the Russians are here! The past two months have been
almost a benefit for Russians in the sport of amateur sumo. In this
time, they have asserted their dominance in Europe, demonstrated that
there is a strong crop of youngsters coming through, and swept most
before them at the recent Sumo World Championships. In the past it has
been, particularly, the women that have led the Russian assault, but
this time the men have matched the dominance of their countrywomen.
As Mark Buckton is particularly focusing on the Sumo World Championships just completed in Osaka, I will turn my attention to two other major tournaments that have occurred since the last edition.
In late August, the Estonian town of Rakvere hosted the 7th Junior World Sumo Championships. This was the first time that the junior tournament, which is only for boys under 18 years of age, had been held outside of the Kokugikan in Tokyo. This came as a result of spirited lobbying by the Estonian Sumo Federation, the town of Rakvere, support from the Estonian Sports Ministry, the backing of seemingly everyone else in the
and no doubt was helped by the success of a certain Estonian behemoth
by the name of Baruto. By all accounts, they delivered on everything
they promised and a fabulous time was had by all.
While this column is largely praising the Russians, we must realise that it was, in fact, Japan that fared the best in the Junior Sumo World Championships. They defeated Poland in the final of the teams event, with Russia and Ukraine taking bronze. Takayuki Sakuma won the open weight division, and compatriots Masahiro Yamaguchi (heavyweight, +100kg , + 220 lbs) and Takashi Shimako (middleweight, -100kg ,– 220 lbs) won their divisions as well. Lightweight (-80kg, -176 lbs) Masakatsu Ishiura was beaten in the final by Nachyn Mongush of Russia to claim silver. Russia claimed bronze in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions, and silver in the open-weight category.
As these results show, Japanese dominance in this age group is almost total. I have no doubt that it comes down to strong fundamental skills and greater training and experience than competitors from other countries.