Popular rikishi Kotoshogiku and Gagamaru retire from sumo
Japan Times -- Nov 19
A significant pair of retirement announcements came in the middle of the ongoing November Grand Sumo Tournament.

Veteran ozeki Kotoshogiku hanging up his mawashi means there are now only four men in makuuchi still active who reached the sport’s top division before the start of 2010.

How long Hakuho, Kakuryu, Tochinoshin or Tamawashi have left is hard to say, but it’s clear that the generation that dominated the first decade of the new millennium is really on its last legs.

Gagamaru, who only appeared in the ring twice in 2020, didn’t have nearly as successful a career as Kotoshogiku, but was a popular rikishi in his own right, and his retirement may actually be of bigger consequence in the short term.

The massive Georgian calling it a day opens up a precious slot for a foreign wrestler in Kise Beya and, given that stable’s proclivity for university wrestlers, comes at an opportune moment.

Seventeen rikishi in Kise stable (including all seven men in the top two salaried divisions) are former collegians, and that number could well rise with the addition of one or more competitors from next months All Japan Championships.

Strong links to Nihon University puts Gagamaru’s now former stable in line to land Yersin Baltagulov, a fourth-year student at that college. The Kazakhstani won the East Japan student championship recently, and a similar result in December would allow him to skip sumo’s three lowest tiers and begin his career just below the juryo division.

Mongolian Purevsuren Delgerbayar at Nippon Sports Science University has already earned that qualification thanks to his victory in the All Japan student meet and could be another potential Gagamaru replacement in Kise Beya. Were Delgerbayar to win the All Japan amateur title as well, he’d be able to join ozumo at makushita 10 — where a 7-0 record would have him in the paid ranks the very next tournament.

News source: Japan Times
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