The withdrawal of both yokozuna before the November Grand Sumo Tournament got under way meant that three of the four highest-ranked men fighting on Day 1 came from a university sumo background.

The remaining top-ranker, Takakeisho, also competed in domestic amateur sumo up to the high school level.

It’s a similar story among recent champions. Each of the non-yokozuna winners of the Emperor’s Cup over the past decade and a half — bar two — has come from amateur or university sumo.