Kokkai Futoshi

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Kokkai Futoshi
黒海 太
Kokkai Futoshi 2008 May.jpg
Personal information
Born Levan Tsaguria
(1981-03-10) March 10, 1981 (age 33)
Georgia
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 12 in)
Weight 153 kg (337 lb; 24.1 st)
Career
Stable Oitekaze
Record 446-458-10
Debut May, 2001
Highest rank Komusubi (September, 2006)
Retired September, 2012
Championships 1 (Jūryō)
1 (Makushita)
1 (Sandanme)
1 (Jonidan)
Special Prizes Fighting Spirit (2)
Gold Stars 2 (Asashōryū)
* Up to date as of Sep. 2012.

Kokkai Futoshi (born March 10, 1981 as Levan Tsaguria, Georgian: ლევან ცაგურია) is a former professional sumo wrestler from Georgia. He began his career in May 2001. He is the first European rikishi to reach sumo's highest division, makuuchi, which he achieved in 2004. His highest rank was komusubi, which he reached in 2006. He earned two special prizes for Fighting Spirit and two gold stars for defeating yokozuna. He wrestled for Oitekaze stable.

Early life and sumo background[edit]

The makuuchi wrestler arriving for a tournament in January 2008.

Kokkai was born as Levan Tsaguria in Sukhumi, Abkhaz Autonomous Republic in then-Soviet Georgia. The secessionist War in Abkhazia forced his family to move to Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, in 1992. He started amateur wrestling from the age of six, being taught by his father who represented the Soviet Union in the sport. Levan enrolled in the National Academy of Sports of Georgia and quickly got interested in sumo, taking part in the World Amateur Sumo Championships in Riesa, Germany. In January 2001, he arrived in Tokyo, Japan, and joined a local sumo school.

He made his professional debut in May 2001, joining Oitekaze stable. His stablemaster, former maegashira Daishoyama, gave him the shikona or ring name of Kokkai, named after the word for Black Sea in Japanese. He quickly rose through the lower divisions, winning the jonidan and sandanme championships with perfect 7-0 records. Another tournament title in the makushita division in January 2003 followed by a 5-2 score at Makushita 1 saw him reach elite sekitori status in May 2003. After winning the jūryō division championship with a 14-1 record in November 2003 he was promoted to the top makuuchi division in January 2004, just 16 tournaments after his debut.

Top division career[edit]

Kokkai in May 2007

Kokkai steadily climbed the maegashira ranks, reaching the #1 position in November 2004 before slipping back slightly. One of his best performances came in July 2005 when he defeated yokozuna Asashōryū for the first time, scored nine wins and was awarded the Fighting Spirit prize. He made his sanyaku debut in September 2006 at komusubi rank and held it with a solid 8-7 record, but he fell back to the maegashira ranks after a back injury restricted him to a poor 3-12 mark in November.

In March 2007 he turned in an impressive 10-5 score but he struggled again in May 2007, only managing three wins at the rank of maegashira 2. After another losing score in July of that year he fell to maegashira 12 in September, his lowest ever top division rank. He managed nine wins in November 2007, his first kachi-koshi or winning score since March.

After a solid 9-6 performance in January 2008, in the following tournament he produced his best ever top division result, a 12-3 score from the rank of maegashira 5, which earned him joint runner-up honours and his second Fighting Spirit prize. However, in the May 2008 tournament he could only manage three wins from the maegashira 1 ranking. Demoted to maegashira 10 for July, he struggled again, winning only five bouts. He was disqualified from his final match against Kimurayama after his was judged to have pulled his opponent's topknot, which is a kinjite or foul. Kokkai maintained it was accidental as the tape on his fingers had stuck to Kimurayama's hair. He continued to move up and down the maegashira rankings in 2009, alternating between 8-7 and 5-10 records.

Having not missed a bout since his debut, in July 2010 he fought his 600th consecutive top division match. Troubled by an elbow injury, he lost his top division status after the January 2011 tournament when he could only score 3-12 at Maegashira 15, ending a run of 43 consecutive tournaments ranked in makuuchi. Back in juryo for the May Technical Examination Tournament, he struggled to a 5-10 score. He returned to the top division in September 2011, but his stay was short-lived after a disastrous 1-14 performance in November. He was forced to pull out of the May 2012 tournament with an injury sustained in a defeat to Takanoyama on Day 10, breaking a run of 882 consecutive appearances since his professional debut in 2001, the most amongst active wrestlers. He was however able to return to the tournament and secured his majority of wins on the final day.

Kokkai in May 2009

Kokkai was joined in the top division by several wrestlers from Eastern Europe, including Kotoōshū from Bulgaria, Aran from Russia, and Baruto from Estonia. In May 2008 a fellow Georgian, Tochinoshin, was also promoted to makuuchi, and Kokkai defeated him in their first match that July. Kokkai is also good friends with former top division wrestler Kakizoe.

He has knowledge of four languages: Georgian, Russian, English and Japanese.[1]

He is a devout Christian and prays every day.[1]

He would sometimes choose not to shave during a tournament for superstitious reasons and would therefore build up stubble, unusual for sumo wrestlers who are normally clean-shaven. In a recent tournament he also appeared with prominent sideburns for a few days, before he was told by his stablemaster to shave them off.

During the September 2012 Basho, Kokkai's Stablemaster announced that his retirement due to multiple injuries to his body over his sumo career, and had not been training in a few months due to them. He will go back to his native Georgia to work in the private sector.

Fighting style[edit]

Due to a neck injury, Kokkai was forced to change his sumo style. He began to fight more on the mawashi, gripping his opponent's belt, switching from the pushing and thrusting techniques he used earlier in his career. His profile at the Japan Sumo Association still lists tsuki/oshi as his favoured techniques, and his most common winning kimarite was oshi-dashi or push out, followed by yori-kiri or force out. He was also fond of using the slap down (hataki-komi) and the pull down, (hiki-otoshi).

Family[edit]

Kokkai's younger brother George also became a professional sumo wrestler in September 2005 under the name Tsukasaumi, but quit after just a year because of persistent injuries, returning to Georgia to take over the family business.

Kokkai was married to a 22 year old from his native Georgia in August 2011.

Career record[edit]

Kokkai Futoshi[2]
Year in sumo January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
March
Haru basho, Osaka
May
Natsu basho, Tokyo
July
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
September
Aki basho, Tokyo
November
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
2001 x x (Maezumo) East Jonokuchi #42
6–1
 
East Jonidan #75
6–1
 
East Jonidan #3
7–0–P
Champion

 
2002 West Sandanme #14
7–0
Champion

 
East Makushita #15
3–4
 
West Makushita #21
6–1
 
East Makushita #7
5–2
 
West Makushita #1
2–5
 
East Makushita #9
4–3
 
2003 West Makushita #6
6–1–PP
Champion

 
West Makushita #1
5–2
 
West Jūryō #10
8–7
 
East Jūryō #6
9–6
 
East Jūryō #4
9–6
 
West Jūryō #2
14–1
Champion

 
2004 West Maegashira #10
8–7
 
West Maegashira #9
8–7
 
East Maegashira #7
10–5
 
East Maegashira #2
8–7
 
West Maegashira #1
7–8
 
West Maegashira #2
7–8
 
2005 West Maegashira #3
7–8
 
East Maegashira #4
9–6
 
East Maegashira #2
5–10
 
East Maegashira #6
9–6
F
West Maegashira #2
5–10
 
West Maegashira #6
9–6
 
2006 West Maegashira #2
8–7
West Maegashira #1
5–10
 
West Maegashira #6
8–7
 
West Maegashira #5
10–5
 
West Komusubi #1
8–7
 
West Komusubi #1
3–12
 
2007 West Maegashira #5
7–8
 
East Maegashira #7
10–5
 
East Maegashira #2
3–12
 
West Maegashira #9
6–9
 
East Maegashira #12
7–8
 
East Maegashira #13
9–6
 
2008 East Maegashira #9
9–6
 
West Maegashira #5
12–3
F
East Maegashira #1
3–12
 
West Maegashira #10
5–10
 
East Maegashira #16
8–7
 
East Maegashira #11
9–6
 
2009 West Maegashira #4
5–10
 
West Maegashira #8
5–10
 
East Maegashira #14
8–7
 
East Maegashira #8
5–10
 
East Maegashira #14
8–7
 
West Maegashira #10
8–7
 
2010 East Maegashira #9
5–10
 
East Maegashira #14
10–5
 
West Maegashira #6
3–12
 
West Maegashira #12
8–7
 
East Maegashira #8
8–7
 
East Maegashira #6
4–11
 
2011 East Maegashira #15
3–12
 
West Jūryō #6
Tournament Cancelled
0–0–0
West Jūryō #6
5–10
 
East Jūryō #4
9–6
 
East Maegashira #16
9–6
 
East Maegashira #10
1–14
 
2012 East Jūryō #4
7–8
 
West Jūryō #5
4–11
 
West Jūryō #11
8–6–1
 
East Jūryō #7
4–11
 
East Jūryō #12
Retired
0–3–9
x
Record given as win-loss-absent    Top Division Champion Retired Lower Divisions

Sanshō key: F=Fighting spirit; O=Outstanding performance; T=Technique     Also shown: =Kinboshi(s); P=Playoff(s)
Divisions: MakuuchiJūryōMakushitaSandanmeJonidanJonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks: YokozunaŌzekiSekiwakeKomusubiMaegashira

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Featured Rikishi-Kokkai". Sumoforum.net. January 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  2. ^ "Rikishi in Juryo and Makunouchi". szumo.hu. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 

External links[edit]