“Sports Another Story” explores the hidden stories of topical athletes. This time, on November 27th, we will introduce the background of the bond between Aen Seki, who won his long-cherished first victory at the Grand Sumo Tournament in Kyushu, and his master, Oyakata Oyayama.
“I’m glad. It’s kind of a lie… I’m still proud. I received emails every day from my master asking me to concentrate the most, so I focused and took it without thinking about the stars.』
~From the article distributed on November 27, 2022 in Tokyo Shimbun TOKYO Web (Comments from the interview with Aen and the winning wrestler)
The Grand Sumo Tournament Kyushu Tournament opened at Terunofuji rest area without Yokozuna. Ichinojo was the second maegashira in July, and Tamawashi was the third maegashira in September. did.
In fact, at the end of the 14th day, Takayasu, the leader of Higashi-Maegashira, was the sole leader with two losses. Ozeki Takakeisho and Nishimaegashira 9th Aen were chasing this with 3 losses with a difference of 1 star. The winner was narrowed down to these three.
The highlight of the finale is the head-to-head confrontation between Takayasu and Aen. If Takayasu wins, the championship will be easily decided, but if Aen wins, they will be tied with 3 losses and will be in the championship game. Furthermore, when Takakeisho defeated Wakatakakage at the end, it was a three-way decisive battle.
Takayasu is a former ozeki wrestler, but has yet to win a makuuchi title. Perhaps due to the pressure of his first win, Takayasu succumbed to the tenacious Aen, and Takakeisho also won, so the three of them tied for 12 wins and 3 losses.
In this case, the Grand Sumo Tournament uses a unique method called “Tomoe Battle” to decide the winner. It was a system in which the three players alternated until one of them won two games in a row, and it was the first time in 28 years since the 1994 spring tournament (Akebono, Takanonami, and Kitouriki) that the deciding match of the Tomoe battle was held (strangely enough, Aen was born. year).
As a result of the lottery to decide the order of battle, Takayasu and Aen, who have just won the main draw, will face off again. Aen was calm against Takayasu, who had lost the first place in the “winner win” and was not calm inside. What a change! Takayasu fell into the ring with a knockdown.
Aen doesn’t have time to rest, and this time he faces Takakeisho. Undaunted by the ozeki opponent, this time Aen went head-on and attacked forward with his spirit, and before he knew it, ozeki had split the ring. Three wins a day, including the Honwari. By defeating former Ozeki and Ozeki, Aen came from behind to win his long-awaited first victory.
“In my head, I had the videos of both Ozeki and Takayasuzeki that I had seen. I came with an image.』
-From the article distributed on November 27, 2022 in “Chunichi Sports” (comments in the interview with Aen and the winning wrestler)
Aen finally gets the gift cup. Actually, it wouldn’t have been strange if I had gotten it sooner.
Born in Koshigaya City, Saitama Prefecture, after graduating from Nagareyama Minami High School in Chiba, a sumo powerhouse, he entered Shikoroyama stable. He stepped on the first ring in the summer of 2013 and steadily rose through the ranks in his specialty, pushing sumo, and was promoted to the new juryo in the spring of 2015. He used his real name “Horikiri” until then, but when he became a sekitori, he changed his name to his current name “Abi”.
In fact, the nickname of his teacher, master Katsuyama (former sekiwake, Terao) is “Abi”. The master used his nickname as his disciple’s name, so you can see the magnitude of his expectations. In addition, the character “Aen” has the meaning of “burn and fight like Ashura”.
Aen lived up to that expectation and entered the tournament at the beginning of 2018. In 2019, he was promoted to the first three roles (Komusubi) at the Nagoya tournament. I was 25 at the time. It was thought that he would soon become Ozeki, but Aen causes various “problems”.
Originally a naughty personality, he was a hot topic for his free-spirited actions and remarks, but in November 2019, he uploaded a video on SNS that tied the hands and feet of a close juryo wrestler with tape. This prank went viral on the internet, and he received a verbal warning from the association.
In February 2020, immediately after the Japan Sumo Association’s training session, he said to reporters, “I was asleep so I didn’t hear anything.”
Furthermore, five months later, it was discovered that he had been secretly going in and out of the “night store” during the period when the new coronavirus infection was spreading and people were asked to refrain from going out unnecessarily. At this time, he made a false report to the association’s hearing, which became a problem, and A Yan submitted a retirement notice to the association through his master.
However, the association did not accept this resignation letter. Instead, we decided to dispose of 3 places suspension. Aen was told to move his residence to the Sanzan stable and to live under the supervision of his master for the time being.
Aen re-examined himself during this period. In March of last year (2021), when he returned to the ring at the spring tournament, his ranking dropped significantly to the 56th in the West Makushita. He had also lost his sekitori status. Of course, in this position, the ability is too different, and he won the makushita with all seven wins. However, according to the person himself, it was a lot of pressure to take on a lower-ranked wrestler in a situation where “winning is natural”, and it seems that it was quite painful mentally.
About last year’s spring tournament, which was the place of his return, Aen said:
“This is the place where I learned the joy of being a sumo wrestler. I was able to win sumo wrestling with all my strength, both mentally and physically.”
~ “Asahi Shimbun Digital” From the article distributed on May 26, 2021
In the following summer tournament in May last year, he won two consecutive makushita titles and returned to jūryō. He no longer speaks arrogantly like before, and he now gives polite answers to interviews.
Juryo won the autumn place in September last year. He returned to makuuchi at the Kyushu tournament in November, and suddenly won the Fighting Spirit Award with a good record of 12 wins and 3 losses. And this year (2022) 12 wins and 3 losses in the first place in January. He earned his first sekiwake promotion at the spring tournament in March, where he maintained the sanyaku for three places.
Behind the scenes, my master, Oyayama Oyakata, supported this splendid “V-shaped recovery”. The master himself was also accused of being responsible for supervising his disciples and was sentenced to a 20% reduction in remuneration for six months.
“I caused trouble for you, so train hard and pay it back.”
~ “Chunichi Sports” From the article distributed on November 27, 2022
In this way, Aen returned to the sanyaku in a situation where he changed his mind and was fulfilled both physically and mentally. However, in September, he had to undergo surgery on his injured right elbow and left ankle, so he had to take a break from the tournament.
Aen positioned the Kyushu Tournament after the break as a “rehabilitation place”. That’s probably why I was able to get it without thinking. From the beginning of the race, we were able to keep winning streaks and get our first win, which is a big fruit.
During this time, Oyayama Oyakata was hospitalized due to poor health. He did not enter Kyushu. Aen, who was supposed to return to the place where his teacher was absent, seems to have received an email from his teacher every day. It was this phrase that really stuck with me.
“It’s important to focus on the first thing and win sumo”
-From an article distributed on November 28, 2022 in “Nikkan Sports”
Before stepping into the ring, Aen carved these words into his heart and piled up wins. After winning the championship, the first thing that came to mind was the smile of his mentor.
“Besides training, he is like a father, and when I was young, I talked about the woman I dated. Ever since she started, she’s always aimed to surpass her master, but I wonder if she’s taken one step further.』
~From the article distributed on November 28, 2022 in “Nikkan Sports” (Aen’s comment)
With this, Aen’s return to the three roles is certain. His goal is to be promoted to Ozeki, which his master failed to achieve.