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The Second Oldest Iron Sumo Wrestler “Tamawashi”

“The Second Oldest Iron Sumo Wrestler “Tamawashi” won the Sumo Tounament“, the paper says.

“My wife worked hard so I felt I had to, too,” he said with his face beaming with smiles.

That’s because Tamawashi, at sumo’s third highest rank ”Sekiwake”, capitalized on the absence of three top-ranked “Yokozuna” to secure victory by beating fan-favorite “maegashira” Endo on Sunday, the same day his wife gave birth to their second child.

Hi how are you?   Today’s topic is about Tamawashi who won the Sumo Tournament yesterday at the age of 34 just in the middle of the change of generation to young Sumo Wrestlers.

What’s more, to our big surprise, he has not missed a bout in his career to date and has the longest streak of consecutive matches among active wrestlers.

He made his debut in January 2004 and became the champion in January 2019, which means he’s been in Sumo wrestling ring for 15 years in a row without a single break.

Late-blooming sekiwake Tamawashi, who won his first title at the age of 34 in the just-concluded New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, said Monday he does not intend to slow down despite taking his time to claim the Emperor’s Cup.

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A day after winning the 15-day championship at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan with a 13-2 record, the Mongolian said he will shatter the young athlete ideal by fighting aging and working out to stay younger for longer.

“I have to be young. I have to train as hard as the younger wrestlers,” said Tamawashi, who became the second-oldest wrestler in sumo’s current six-basho format to win his first championship.

“I still can’t believe it. The silver trophy was very heavy. Dreams are meant to come true,” he told a press conference at his Kataonami stable. “I want to continue fighting past the age of 40.”

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Who’s Tamawashi?

In Mongolia, Munkh-Orgil(his real name) was working toward a career in the hotel industry, but was encouraged to come to Japan by his older sister who was studying there.

On a visit to see his sister in Japan, they went to Ryōgoku where Tokyo’s official tournaments are held.

Sumo Wrestler
His older sister who attended Tokyo University which is considered the highest rank of universities in Japan.

They happened to wander by Izutsu stable and had a chance to meet the up-and-coming Mongolian sumo wrestler for that stable, Kakuryū. They talked about the prospects of Munkh-Orgil joining a stable and Kakuryū put him in touch with former senior Mongolian sumo wrestler Kyokushūzan.

Through this connection, he was recruited by the former sekiwake Tamanofuji and joined Kataonami stable in January 2004.

He made steady progress through the lower divisions, recording only one “make-koshi“(more losses than wins) on the way to the third highest makushita division in May 2005.

He went up and down the division until taking the championship in September 2007 with a perfect 7–0 record, which sent him up the ranks to Makushita 2. A 4–3 record in the next tournament was enough to earn him promotion to the elite sekitori ranks for the January 2008 tournament.

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After producing four consecutive “kachi-koshi” (more wins than losses) scores in the jūryō division, Tamawashi made his debut in the top makuuchi division in September 2008.

A 4–11 record sent him back to jūryō but a 10–5 score in November returned him immediately to makuuchi.

His first winning score in the top division in March 2009 saw him at his highest rank to date of maegashira 8 in the May 2009 tournament.

However, he could only manage a 5–10 score at maegashira 11 in July, and was demoted back to jūryō, replaced by Masatsukasa.

However, he responded by taking the jūryō championship with an 11–4 record in September, which returned him immediately to the top division.

After that, he got through up and down in sumo career. He rebounded with a 9-6 in November and began the 2019 campaign back at sekiwake.

In January 2019 Tamawashi made a solid start with three wins in his first five matches before embarking on an impressive winning streak.

Having already defeated the three ōzeki he took a share of lead by beating Hakuhō on day 12 , seen as follow,

Sumo Wrestler

At 34 he became the second oldest first time winner since the six tournaments per year system was established in 1958, after Kyokutenhō in 2012.

In short, Tamawashi’s journey to championship was not all smooth sailing.

Why he is called “Iron Sumo Wrestler”?

Having never missed a tournament since his 2004 debut, Tamawashi’s streak of 1,151 consecutive bouts is the longest among active wrestlers.

However, he needed to fight in 38 grand tournaments in the top-flight makuuchi division before earning promotion to the three “sanyaku” ranks below yokozuna, the longest run ever needed for a foreign wrestler.

Still, quitting was never an option, and he had his reasons. “Never,” Tamawashi said when asked whether he had ever considered quitting sumo.

“There are people who have always been supportive of me. It would be sinful to betray them,” he said. Tamawashi is cognizant of the next generation of wrestlers, not as threats but as inspirations as he eyes continued success.

“I’m in awe when I see the way others approach sumo. Like them, I want to put on a sumo performance that allows people to have fun and feel joy,” he said.

Fighting style

Unusually for a Mongolian wrestler Tamawashi is an oshi-sumo specialist, who prefers pushing and thrusting techniques.

His most common winning kimarite is overwhelmingly oshidashi (push out), which accounts for half his career wins.

He is not comfortable fighting on the mawashi, winning only 15 bouts by yorikiri (force out) in his career to date.

His personal life

Tamawashi married a fellow Mongolian in 2012.His second child was born in January 2019, on the same day as his tournament championship was confirmed.

I’d like to close the writing here, hoping he could get a chance of winning despite aging.

Besides this article, we have another article, that is “Sumo is a 2,000-year-old history that is the national sport of Japan” for which you can enjoy.

About the author

古林 茂樹(Shigeki Furubayashi )