A photo taken of the winner’s podium at the 2004 Junior Sumo World Championships has received a lot of attention over the past couple of years.
Two of the four young men standing on the ring in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, that day (Tochinoshin and Goeido) have gone on to become title-winning ozeki, while a third (Kaisei) spent most of the last decade in sumo’s top division, reaching its third-highest rank — sekiwake.
Atilla Toth from Hungary has become the odd man out, spending his entire 15-year career to date in the relative anonymity of the sport’s lower divisions.
Fighting under a ring name that combines his former stablemaster’s prefix with the characters for Eastern Europe, Masutoo has been part of Chiganoura beya since the stable’s establishment in 2004.
Reaching his highest rank to date in September, Masutoo was finally within striking distance of promotion to the paid ranks but couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, slipping to a losing record on the 11th day.
It isn’t just by his podium mates in Osaka that he has been overshadowed either.
As well as Goeido, Masutoo’s entry group into professional sumo included Tochiozan, Toyohibiki and Okinoumi.
Despite not delivering on his early promise as an amateur, Masutoo has become an integral part of Chiganoura’s operations and has been active outside the ring as well, taking charge of the stable’s blog and social media accounts.
Well liked for his laid back and friendly demeanor, the Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok native has gone from wide-eyed teenage rookie to veteran mentor, continuously helping and guiding the younger wrestlers at his stable.
The amalgamation of the Chiganoura and Takanohana stables means Masutoo now gets to train with an ozeki and several other high-ranked rikishi.
If that helps push him over the top and earns the 33-year-old a slot in juryo, it will be one of the most deserved and popular promotions of recent times.