One of the more popular rikishi these days is Abi.
The tall 25-year-old fights out of a Shikoroyama stable headed up by former sekiwake Terao — a man that was also a crowd favorite back in his active days.
The stable has no shortage of well-liked former wrestlers with Tatsutagawa elder similarly admired when he was a rikishi.
While Abi and Terao gained attention mostly for their looks and sumo style, Tatsutagawa (who fought under the ring name Homasho) gained fame for his reserved manner and deep polite bows after each bout.
Homasho reached the rank of komusubi (sumo’s fourth highest) had three runner-up performances in the top division and earned seven special prizes, but his career was almost derailed before it even began.
A promising career was interrupted in college when the future Homasho developed cellulitis while a freshman at powerhouse Nihon University and was forced to quit the sumo team.
He bounced around doing part-time security work and odd jobs but, inspired by former teammates he decided to leave university and turn pro right before the would have reached the cutoff age.
Homasho’s best tournament came in November 2006 when he was runner-up with 12 wins and took home the technique and fight spirit prizes.
After a solid career, injuries finally forced him to retire in early 2015.
So popular was Homasho that 10,000 people showed up to his retirement ceremony. Typical of the man he took the unusual step of rotating his chair during the hair cutting so that fans on all sides of the arena could get a good view.
Homasho still takes an active part in training at the Shikoroyama stable and is a big reason that rikishi like Abi have had success.