When former ozeki Tochiazuma was presented with the Emperor's Cup on Jan. 22, 2006, few in the sport could have predicted that Tochiazuma's third and final championship victory would be the last to be awarded to a Japan-born rikishi for the next decade.

And Sumo Scribblings, in its first-ever column, a few weeks later on March 8 of that year was no different. Tochiazuma at the time was the only real serious domestic contender for yokozuna promotion.

True, the one-time pusher-thruster and belt-grappling powerhouses of Chiyotaikai and Kaio, respectively, were still chalking up decent scores from time to time, but both were past their best.