Sumo

Undervalued Gagamaru has had solid career in raised ring

by John Gunning

Contributing Writer

To date, four men from the country of Georgia have become sumo wrestlers in Japan.

One (Tochinoshin) has been an ozeki, two (Kokkai and Gagamaru) reached komusubi and the fourth (Tsukasaumi — the younger brother of Kokkai) left the professional ranks while still in the sandanme division.

Gagamaru has been overshadowed by Kokkai and Tochinoshin, the first and most successful Georgians respectively, but the big man from Tbilisi has carved out a fairly decent career of his own.

His highlight tournament came in January 2012 when a 12-3 performance gave him a share of the runner-up slot alongside yokozuna Hakuho, while his fellow European Baruto lifted the Emperors Cup.

That earned him a second fighting spirit prize in the space of three tournaments and promotion to sumo’s fourth-highest rank.

Gagamaru managed a win over yokozuna Harumafuji in 2015 and spent only a single tournament outside the top two (salaried) divisions in the 10 years following his promotion to juryo.

Never a small man, Gagamaru’s weight increased significantly after becoming a rikishi and he has been well over 200 kg for most of his career.

Exactly how much he weighs is hard to discern as the veteran strongly dislikes his size being the main focus of discussion and found many excuses to skip the official weigh-in over the years.

While fighting at such a much larger size has some advantages, it’s arguable that had he managed to stay around 180 kg, Gagamaru would have had a more successful career as his lack of mobility was something more accomplished opponents took advantage of on a regular basis.

From mid-2019 Gagamaru’s performance sharply declined and he has gone 10-34 in the ring since last July.

After dropping to the unsalaried ranks and withdrawing from two straight tournaments, it looks like Tochinoshin may soon be the sole Georgian left in sumo.

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