is one of the relatively few sumo
wrestlers in Japanese
sumo who compete under their own surname, rather than a poetic shikona
or ring name
. At the moment he and Kakizoe
are the only wrestlers in makuuchi
(the top division) to compete under their own names.
Dejima Takeharu was born on March 21, 1974 in Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture. He attended the university in Tokyo, where he also participated in college sumo. In March, 1996 he left the university and joined Musashigawa beya (a professional sumo training school or "stable").
He rose rapidly through the hierarchy1, and was promoted to juryo in September the same year. One half year later he was promoted to the makuuchi division, again quickly climbing from the bottom to the top. In November 1997 he made the rank of sekiwake2 only to hurt his ankle in the middle of the basho (tournament), forcing him to retire.
He had to sit out two basho, and when he finally returned in the May basho, 1998, he had dropped down the ranks to the bottom of the makuuchi. This didn't seem to bother him, though: scoring an impressing 10-53 in the next two tournaments he soon found himself back in the top group as komusubi. In July, 1999, he was back as sekiwake - and in the same basho he went on to level-peg with the Grand Master of the time, Yokozuna Akebono. Dejima won the resulting play-off, and for this achievement the Nihon Sumo Kyokai elevated him to the rank of ozeki, the second highest rank in sumo.
Dejima is 180 cm tall, and weighs 158kg which is not very heavy for a sumo wrestler. His sumo is fairly uncomplicated; his favourite techniques are oshidashi (pushing opponent out of the ring), and yorikiri (pushing opponent out of the ring while holding on to his mawashi). This type of sumo served him well for a long time until he was injured again in July 2001. He dropped through the ranks to the bottom of makuuchi, but again he managed to fight his way back up. Alas not quite to his former glory, though. After one basho as sekiwake he has been slugging it out in the middle of makuuchi, periodically doing very well, but never reaching the ozeki rank again.
Dejima has won the following special prizes:
- 1 Emperor's Cup (for winning one basho)
- 3 Shukun sho (Outstanding Performance Award)
- 4 Kanto sho (Fighting Spirit Prize)
- 3 Gino sho (Technique Prize)
- 6 Kin Boshi (Gold Star, for when a maegashira defeats a yokozuna)
Dejima is a very popular wrestler, and you will often see spectators cheering him on, waving banners with his name on them. Although he is now in his early thirties (a respectable age for a sumotori) and can look back on a very successful sumo career, I personally hope we will get to enjoy his down-to-basics sumo for a few years yet.
Update: Alas, following Nagoya basho, (July) 2009, after withdrawing due to an injury, Dejima decided to retire. His danpatsushiki (retirement ceremony) is on May 29, 2010. I, for one, will miss him.
- The divisions are, from the bottom up: maezumo (not included in the banzuke), jonokuchi, jonidan, sandanme, makushita, juryo, and makuuchi. Normally young wrestlers enter sumo in the lowest division, 'maezumo'. College wrestlers, on the other hand, go straight to 'makushita'
- The ranks in the top division, makuuchi, are, from the bottom up: maegashira, komusubi, sekiwake, ozeki and yokozuna.
- The regular basho runs over 15 days. Each wrestler fights one bout each day.
My sources are www.scgroup.com/sumo and http://www.scienca.de/wiki/Dejima_Takeharu. As usual http://sumo.goo.ne.jp/eng/index.html has provided too.