Musashimaru Kōyō

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Musashimaru Koyo
武蔵丸 光洋
Musashimaru Dohyo-iri.JPG
Personal information
Born Fiamalu Penitani
(1971-05-02) May 2, 1971 (age 43)
American Samoa
Height 1.92 m (6 ft 3 12 in)
Weight 235 kg (518 lb; 37.0 st)
Career
Stable Musashigawa
Record 779-294-115
Debut September, 1989
Highest rank Yokozuna (May, 1999)
Retired November, 2003
Championships 12 (Makuuchi)
1 (Jūryō)
1 (Sandanme)
1 Jonokuchi
Special Prizes Outstanding Performance (1)
Fighting Spirit (1)
Technique (2)
* Up to date as of August 2007.

Musashimaru Koyo (武蔵丸 光洋 Musashimaru Kōyō?, born May 2, 1971 as Fiamalu Penitani), is a former sumo wrestler. He was the second foreign-born wrestler in history to reach the rank of yokozuna. He won over 700 top division bouts and took twelve top division tournament championships during his career. Musashimaru's sheer 235 kg (518 lb) bulk combined with 1.92 m (6 ft 3 12 in) of height made him a formidable opponent, and he was remarkably consistent and injury-free for most of his career. An amiable personality, his fan base was helped by a surprising facial resemblance to Japanese warrior hero Saigō Takamori.[1] He now works as a coach at Musashigawa stable and an executive manager at the Japan Sumo Association.

Early career[edit]

Fiamalu Penitani was born in eastern Samoa, the fourth son of a Tongan-German father and a Samoan-Portuguese mother. Fiamalu Penitani was born in American Samoa.[2] The family moved to Oahu, Hawaiʻi when he was ten years old.[2] While attending Waianae High School in Waianae he played American football and was offered a scholarship to Pasadena City College, but he also had success in Greco-Roman wrestling, and his wrestling coach encouraged him to give sumo a try.[2] He moved to Japan and joined former yokozuna Mienoumi's Musashigawa stable in June 1989, initially on a trial basis only.[2] This proved to be successful and he formally made his professional debut that September, adopting the shikona of Musashimaru. He moved up the ranks quickly, becoming an elite sekitori wrestler in July 1991 upon promotion to the jūryō division.[2] He reached the top makuuchi division just two tournaments later in November 1991. He made komusubi in May 1992 and sekiwake in July. After a superb 13-2 record and runner-up honours in November 1993, and a 12-3 score the following January, he was promoted to ōzeki alongside Takanonami.

Ōzeki[edit]

Musashimaru was ranked as an ōzeki for 32 tournaments. He showed great consistency, never missing any bouts through injury and always getting at least eight wins. However, he was unable to gain the successive championships needed to become a yokozuna. Musashimaru took his first top division championship (yūshō) in July 1994 with a perfect 15-0 record, but in the following tournament he could manage only 11 wins and Takanohana overtook him to become grand champion at the end of the year, joining Akebono who had become the first foreign born yokozuna in 1993. Musashimaru seemed content just to maintain his rank, not winning another title until November 1996. Takanohana was absent from this tournament and Musashimaru won it after a five way play-off with a score of 11-4, the lowest number of wins needed to take a top division title since 1972. His third championship came in January 1998.

Yokozuna[edit]

In 1999, with Akebono and Takanohana both struggling with injury and loss of form, Musashimaru suddenly came alive with two consecutive tournament wins in March and May 1999 to earn promotion to yokozuna. There was little of the controversy that surrounded previous promotion drives by foreign rikishi such as Konishiki, and Musashimaru's record of never having missed a bout in his career was praised by the Yokozuna Deliberation Council.[3] After a respectable 12-3 performance in his yokozuna debut, he won two further titles that year. However, in January 2000 he had to pull out of the tournament with an injury on the fourth day, bringing to an end his record run of 55 consecutive tournaments with a majority of wins, dating from his 6-1 score in the makushita division in November 1990. He was however, one tournament short of Kitanoumi's top division record. Akebono returned to form in 2000, and Musashimaru was also sidelined with injury in May. He won just one title that year, in September, although it was one of his most impressive results as he won his first 14 matches, just failing on the last day to become the first wrestler in four years to win with a perfect record.[4] In 2001, although he did not have the injury problems of the previous year, he lost two playoffs to Takanohana in January and May, and had to wait until November 2001 for his ninth title. In 2002, with Takanohana sidelined through injury, Musashimaru was dominant. Although he missed most of the January 2002 tournament after injuring himself against Kyokushūzan on the 3rd day, he won three tournaments, making 2002 his most successful year since 1999. His victory over the returning Takanohana in September 2002 was his twelfth and final championship and was also the last time either man would complete a tournament, making it the end of an era.

Retirement from sumo[edit]

In November 2002 he tore a tendon in his left wrist, an injury which proved to be career-ending. Forced to withdraw from that tournament, the chronic problem restricted him to just a handful of appearances in the whole of 2003. Overshadowed by new yokozuna Asashōryū, he entered the July tournament but pulled out after just six days. He did not compete again until November, when after suffering his fourth defeat on the seventh day, he bowed to the inevitable and announced his retirement.[5][6] In an interview on November 16, 2003, he revealed that he had also injured his neck while playing American football in high school and had been unable to move his left shoulder properly. He was the last Hawaiian wrestler in sumo, ending a dynasty that began with Takamiyama in 1964 and at one point in 1996 saw four from the island ranked in the top division.[7] During his career he had won a total of twelve top division championships, one more than Akebono, and also won over 700 top division bouts, one of only six wrestlers to have achieved that feat to date. He officially retired on October 2, 2004 when he had his danpatsu-shiki, or retirement ceremony, at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan.[8]

Appearing on KUSI with Phil Konstantin in 2005.

Musashimaru has remained in the sumo world as an oyakata, or coach at his old stable. He did not acquire a permanent elder (toshiyori) name, going instead under the name of Musashimaru Oyakata, which as a former yokozuna he was entitled to do for a period of five years after retirement. In October 2008 he began using the name Furiwake.[9] He switched to the Ōshima kabu of the former yokozuna Asahikuni in August 2012.[10] In December 2012 it was announced that he would inherit the prestigious Musashigawa name upon his old stablemaster's retirement in February 2013, at which time he opened his own stable of wrestlers.[11]

In April 2008 he married a hula dance instructor from Tokyo and the wedding ceremony took place in August 2008 in Hawaii.

He appeared alongside Brad Pitt (who was playing his personal assistant) in two commercials for Softbank, a Japanese mobile phone company, in July 2009. They were directed by Spike Jonze.[12]

Fighting style[edit]

In addition to his great size and strength, Musashimaru had a low centre of gravity and excellent balance, which made him very difficult to beat. Earlier in his career he favoured pushing and thrusting (tsuki/oshi) techniques, but he also began to fight more on the mawashi, simply wearing his smaller opponents out with his huge inertia. He usually used a migi-yotsu (left hand outside, right hand inside) grip. His most common winning kimarite was oshi dashi (push out), closely followed by yori kiri (force out). Together these two techniques accounted for about 60 percent of his career wins.

Career record[edit]

Musashimaru Kōyō[13]
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
1989 x x x x (Maezumo) West Jonokuchi #41
7–0
Champion

 
1990 East Jonidan #56
6–1
 
West Sandanme #94
6–1
 
East Sandanme #40
7–0–P
Champion

 
East Makushita #25
5–2
 
West Makushita #11
2–5
 
West Makushita #24
6–1
 
1991 East Makushita #9
4–3
 
West Makushita #4
4–3
 
East Makushita #1
5–2
 
East Jūryō #11
11–4
Champion

 
East Jūryō #3
10–5
 
East Maegashira #12
11–4
F
1992 East Maegashira #3
9–6
 
West Maegashira #1
9–6
 
West Komusubi #2
8–7
 
East Komusubi #1
11–4
T
West Sekiwake #1
10–5
 
East Sekiwake #1
9–6
 
1993 East Sekiwake #2
10–5
 
East Sekiwake #1
10–5
 
East Sekiwake #1
9–6
 
West Sekiwake #1
8–7
 
East Sekiwake #1
8–7
 
West Sekiwake #2
13–2–P
O
1994 East Sekiwake #1
12–3
T
West Ōzeki #2
9–6
 
East Ōzeki #2
12–3
 
West Ōzeki #1
15–0
 
East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
West Ōzeki #2
12–3
 
1995 West Ōzeki #1
13–2–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
10–5
 
East Ōzeki #1
10–5
 
1996 West Ōzeki #1
9–6
 
West Ōzeki #1
9–6
 
East Ōzeki #2
9–6
 
East Ōzeki #2
10–5
 
East Ōzeki #2
11–4
 
West Ōzeki
11–4–PPP
 
1997 West Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
West Ōzeki #1
12–3–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
9–6
 
West Ōzeki #1
10–5
 
East Ōzeki #1
13–2–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
1998 West Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
8–7
 
West Ōzeki #1
10–5
 
West Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
1999 East Ōzeki #1
8–7
 
East Ōzeki #1
13–2
 
East Ōzeki #1
13–2
 
West Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
West Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
2000 East Yokozuna #1
2–2–11
 
East Yokozuna #2
11–4
 
East Yokozuna #2
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
East Yokozuna #2
10–5
 
West Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
2001 West Yokozuna #1
14–1–P
 
West Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
West Yokozuna #1
13–2–P
 
West Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #1
9–6
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
2002 East Yokozuna #1
1–3–11
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
10–5
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
4–2–9
 
2003 East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
West Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
West Yokozuna
2–4–9
 
West Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
West Yokozuna #1
Retired
3–5
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. ^ Kuehnert, Marty (2003-11-19). "The end of the Hawaiian era marks a huge blow to sumo". Japan Times Online. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0283-X. 
  3. ^ "SUMO'S HAWAIIAN GIANT:Second Foreign Wrestler Reaches Highest Rank". Trends In Japan. 1999-08-06. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  4. ^ "Musashimaru stays on top". BBC News Online. 2000-09-18. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  5. ^ "Musashimaru retires". The Japan Times. 2003-11-16. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  6. ^ "Musashimaru explains his reasons for bowing out". The Japan Times. 2003-11-17. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  7. ^ Kuehnert, Marty (2003-11-19). "The end of the Hawaiian era marks a huge blow to sumo". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  8. ^ "Ceremony held for Musashimaru". The Japan Times. 2004-10-03. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  9. ^ Hueston, Dave (2010-07-24). "Musashimaru blasts gamblers". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  10. ^ "Oyakata (coaches) - goo sumo". Japan Sumo Association. 2012-08-28. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  11. ^ "Former yokozuna Musashimaru to open stable next year". Japan Times. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Smith, Lizzie (2009-04-30). "Brad Pitt makes do with the supporting role as he plays sumo's flunkey in new advert". Mail Online. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  13. ^ "Musashimaru Koyo Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 

External links[edit]

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Yokozuna is not a successive rank, and more than one wrestler can share the title