25 Under 25 in Sumo
Updated: Jul 7
Sumo starts in just three days. Sign up for Fantasy Basho on Fantasizr now to set your team. As you get excited for live sumo, enjoy this look at some of sumo’s most exciting youngsters.
The past three winters, around New Year’s, this site has published a series called “The Next Yokozuna.” Notably, it missed the most recent Yokozuna promotion. But Terunofuji was such an unusual case that it doesn’t feel like a huge problem with the method. You shouldn’t expect someone else to make it to Ozeki before suffering a series of catastrophic injuries and coming up to Yokozuna after dropping back to Jonidan. Takakeisho could still make the process behind the Next Yokozuna series look good by performing at his peak for the last three basho of 2022.
The point of The Next Yokozuna was never really to find the next promotion to sumo’s ultimate rank. The series was designed to spot rikishi who could grow up to become a Yokozuna. There have been 10 Yokozuna promotions since 1990. The profile of a rikishi who may possibly become a Yokozuna is specific, and the overwhelming majority of rikishi won’t come close. Yokozuna come along so rarely that often the next one will be someone in Sandanme or Makushita. That’s not because Sandanme and Makushita are full of future stars, but because the likelihood is most Maegashira or Komusubi or Sekiwake or Ozeki won’t become Yokozuna.
Following young future stars is fun besides spotting the next wrestler to take the rope. The general promise of a good young rikishi turning into a solid Maegashira or future Sanyaku mainstay is exciting enough. With that in mind, this article will be a list of 25 sumo wrestlers under 25.
Why under 25? Because this list needed some kind of cutoff. Age was the obvious determinant because that would guarantee a list of rikishi whose best years are ahead of them. 25 is still young for sumo, with very few rikishi being even near their peak at age 25. Hakuho did make Yokozuna at 22, but he was also the greatest of all time. Plus, his best years were 2009 and 2010, when he was 24 and 25. Then he sustained his dominance through 2014 and 2015. Even the greatest of all time had more in the tank after the age of 25 than before.
On the other hand, it is, by necessity, an arbitrary cutoff. Anyone who will turn 25 before the Nagoya basho begins is eliminated from this list, and that creates two very interesting exclusions. Ozeki Takakeisho is 25, and he won’t be 26 until August. Despite an underwhelming 2022 so far, he could pull off two back-to-back yushos for the Yokozuna promotion. Even if he doesn’t, he is an Ozeki with two yusho and six jun-yusho to his name. He will have an impact on sumo as the youngsters on this list hit their peak years.
The other notable exclusion is Oshoma. Oshoma is a Mongolian-born former University champion who will become Naruto beya’s first-ever sekitori when he makes his Juryo debut in Nagoya. He made his debut last November as a Makushita 15 thanks to the tsukedashi system for amateur champions. He made it to Juryo by going 7-0 for the Makushita yusho as Makushita #8 East in May. A powerful technician, he will make noise in Makuuchi in the near future.
He also turned 25 in April, making him older than everyone on this list. Best case scenario is he makes Maegashira before year’s end, while he could approach Sanyaku in 12 months. And to do that, he pretty much needs to dominate. The 25 rikishi in this list just have more room to grow as athletes. It’s an arbitrary cutoff, but a telling one.
The 25 Under 25 list is presented in reverse order of highest career rank. This is to show who has performed at different levels more easily, but also highlights the BEST a rikishi has been. Someone who has already made it to Juryo or Maegashira has the ability to do it, since they have already done it.
Here they are, 25 sumo wrestlers who have not yet turned 25 years old, ranked by highest career rank, beginning with the lowest rank achieved.
Birthdate: April 10, 2005
Highest Career Rank: Sandanme 52 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 26-16
177 cm | 114.4 kg (5’9” | 252 lbs)
The biggest recommendation for Shunrai is that he is incredibly young. At barely 17, he has already been up to Sandanme. There will be many young men joining sumo over the next year who are older than him, and he is well ahead of them before they even have a match. (Kayo, listed just below, is essentially three years older at roughly the same rank.)The son of the former Tokitsukaze oyakata (who left the JSA due to violating COVID protocols right before Shunrai and his brother Kiryuko joined sumo), he has a pedigree as well. He isn’t big and he hasn’t dominated so far, but he could be a Makushita wrestler before he turns 18.
Birthdate: July 14, 1999
Highest Career Rank: Sandanme 30 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 6-1
169 cm | 146 kg (5’7” | 322 lbs)
Kayo is a Nishonoseki recruit, one of the first from former Yokozuna Kisenosato as the head of a stable. He joined sumo as a Sandanme Tsukedashi in May. All he did was go 6-1 against people with much more pro experience. A university wrestler, Kayo is built on the Takakeisho mold, wider than he is tall. He could be a wrecking ball through the lower divisions.
Birthdate: July 8, 2003
Highest Career Rank: Sandanme 27 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 14-0
182 cm | 121 kg (5’11” | 266 lbs)
Kototebakari has literally never lost in professional sumo. He has been in sumo since January, and he has back-to-back Jonidan and Jonokuchi yusho. That’s an impressive feat, but the 21-0 club is where it becomes historic. As a former high school standout, he may do that. He’s also shown some technical variety, although he’s mostly won with yorikiri. Kototebakari is the younger brother of Maegashira Kotoshoho (look below on this list), and like everyone else who joins Sadogatake-beya has had “Koto” appended to his family name for his first shikona. That will change when he makes Juryo. It could be soon, even if he finally picks up a loss during Nagoya.
Birthdate: October 31, 2002
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 37
Career Record: 31-11
175 cm | 124 kg (5’9” | 273 lbs)
Shunrai’s older brother, Kiryuko has steadily climbed through the ranks in his six basho in pro sumo. Although he hasn’t won a yusho, he has won 75% of his matches and is now in upper Maegashira three months before he turns 20. He’s been similarly adept at grappling and thrusting so far, which means he has strong fundamentals. He’s about two or three basho from a Juryo promotion if he keeps winning. More likely, he hits the upper Makushita wall, struggling against veterans with Juryo experience. But he’s still in a remarkable position.
Birthdate: December 6, 2001
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 32 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 56-35
169 cm | 133 kg (5’7” | 293 lbs)
Hayatefuji joined sumo in January 2020, and for his first year he seemed to be rocketing up the rankings. Since then, he’s been uneven, needing two shots at establishing himself in Makushita. That still makes him a 20 year old in the upper part of Makushita that has won more often than he has lost. He is a pusher-thruster who has also shown early skill with pulling out hatakikomi and hikiotoshi.
Birthdate: July 24, 1999
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 27 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 13-1
192 cm | 148 kg (6’3” | 326 lbs)
Kanzaki joined sumo in March as a Sandanme Tsukedashi after excelling in university sumo. Since then, he’s dominated. He won the Sandanme yusho easily at Haru, then went 6-1 in his Makushita debut in May. He is blessed with outstanding size, and he has joined the new Takekuma stable run by the former Ozeki Goeido. So far, he’s been able to keep everyone at arm’s length with pushing techniques, and if he keeps that going he’ll be doing it in Makuuchi soon.
Birthdate: June 9, 2002
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 24 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 32-10
179 cm | 135 kg (5’10” | 297 lbs)
Nobehara is another steady riser who has never had a yusho, but also has never had a losing record. And he may be getting better. In his Makushita debut in May, Nobehara went 6-1. His only loss was to the aforementioned Kanzaki. He just turned 20, and he has used 12 kimarite in his 32 wins. He also seems to be equally comfortable with grappling and pushing.
Birthdate: September 7, 2002
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 21 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 29-6-7
180 cm | 173 kg (5’11” | 381 lbs)
The only thing that has so far slowed down Mukainakano was when all of Miyagino-beya sat out for COVID reasons in September 2021. In his 5 active basho, he has won 80% of his matches mostly, but not exclusively, with an oshidashi. A massive young man, he is also a Hakuho protege who is in the stable that also produced Enho and Ishiura. He could add a trick or two beyond his pure power. His pure power will still probably keep him shooting up the rankings. A strong basho at Makushita 21 will officially put him in Juryo range for November.
Birthdate: June 18, 2002
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 19 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 91-61-16
183 cm | 144 kg (6’ | 317 lbs)
The “16” in Kamitani’s 91-61-16 career record is telling. In January and March 2021, he missed both tournaments through injury. Before that, he was on a steady, but uneven, climb through the rankings. In May, he won the Sandanme yusho, which has now elevated him to Makushita 19. A few more good basho, and he is a sekitori. He’ll do it with pure pushing/thrusting techniques, as his most common kimarite are oshidashi and hatakikomi.
Birthdate: July 26, 2000
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 11 (Kyushu 2020)
Career Record: 77-56
182 cm | 139 kg (6’ | 306 lbs)
Suzuki is almost back to his career high rank, two years after achieving it. A 20 year old at Makushita 11 is a little more exciting than an almost 22 year old at Makushita 15. Yet after he tumbled down the banzuke from that high, Suzuki has made it back. He won’t be a future star, likely, but he’s shown he can come back and keep succeeding. If and when he does make Juryo, he’ll almost certainly get a new name. Such a common name is just likely to get a shikona.
Birthdate: March 1, 1999
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 10 (Natsu 2022)
Career Record: 35-14
174 cm | 116 kg (5’8” | 255 lbs)
Osanai is a university wrestler who was charging up the Banzuke until May. His previous performance would show he has an ability to recover. Osanai is of the Enho/Midorifuji/Tobizaru class, undersized university wrestler with a range of skills (15 kimarite in 35 career wins.) As a Takasago man, he’ll likely be getting a shikona starting with “Asa” soon enough when he reaches Juryo.
Birthdate: December 5, 1997
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 8 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 37-12
178 cm | 124 kg (5’10” | 273 lbs)
Fujiseiun is in the same category as Osanai, a university wrestler who has done well against the lower levels and is near a Juryo promotion. He did dominate much more in the three lowest-levels, winning two yusho and a jun-yusho due to a playoff. He is also slightly bigger and prefers a more straight-ahead grappling style, but he is also someone who is closer to his peak. Consider him a high-floor/low-ceiling type.
Birthdate: October 6, 2003
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 8 (Kyushu 2021)
Career Record: 68-43-15
180 cm | 135 kg (5’11” | 297 lbs)
Otsuji has hit a bit of a wall in upper Makushita since last November. That would be more concerning if he wasn’t an 18 year old with plenty of room to grow. He has been fighting older veterans who have much, much more experience. Right now, Otsuji is a pure pusher who overwhelmingly prefers oshidashi. He is still managing winning records more than losing records, and if he takes another year to reach Juryo he’ll be a sekitori before he turns 20.
Birthdate: March 7, 2001
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 3 (Haru 2022)
Career Record: 64-27-7
179 cm | 145 kg (5’10” | 320 lbs)
In January, it looked like Dewanoryu would be in Juryo by Nagoya. Instead, he had to sit out March with an injury. In May, he went 6-1 at Makushita 43. He was delayed, not stopped. Dewanoumi-beya’s designated foreigner, Dewanoryu is a Mongolian who mostly wins by yorikiri. Not unlike stablemate Mitakeumi, he gets right into an opponent when he is on his game. He’d likely need a yusho performance to get to Juryo in September, but that shouldn’t be ruled out.
Birthdate: January 11, 1999
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 2 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 41-15
182 cm | 153 kg (6’ | 337 lbs)
Kanno is in position, at Makushita 2, to make it to sekitori-dom if he can get a winning record in Nagoya. Even if he gets a make-koshi in July, he’ll make it to Juryo soon. He is a Sandanme Tsukedashi who has taken little time in cruising through the lower divisions. He isn’t pushing or grappling dominant, and has even already shown a variety of throws. Look for him on NHK highlights before too long.
Birthdate: March 2, 1999
Highest Career Rank: Makushita 2 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 89-51
184 cm | 152 kg (6’ | 335 lbs)
Roga is an ethnic Mongolian from Russia who came out great guns in his first pro basho in 2019. Over the past two years, he’s hit the upper Makushita wall. He has won more than he’s lost over the past year, and he is in a position where a winning record will likely take him to Juryo. He will obviously need more than that to stick in Juryo and make it to the top division, but being a steady riser will get you there as well.
Birthdate: April 7, 1998
Highest Career Rank: Juryo 14 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 39-15-2
176 cm | 150 kg (5’9” | 330 lbs)
Gonoyama is the first sekitori from the former Goeido’s Takekuma-beya with his promotion to Juryo for Nagoya. He was a Sandanme Tsukedashi in March of last year, and he has only been set back by a small injury in November 2021. He has been primarily winning with oshidashi and tsukidashi, but has also busted out an abisetaoshi, a shitatedashinage, and a watashikomi for wins in his short career. He should be fun to watch as he keeps climbing the ladder.
Birthdate: November 12, 2001
Highest Career Rank: Juryo 12 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 54-11-35
200 cm | 170 kg (6’7” | 375 lbs)
There are three things to recommend Hokuseiho: 1) He is absolutely massive, 2) He has absolutely dominated, 3) He is being mentored by Hakuho. In fact, if Hokuseiho hadn’t sat out two basho with the whole of Miyagino beya due to COVID diagnoses and another with an injury, he may be in Makuuchi right now. When he has been healthy enough to compete, he has won a yusho at every lower level. His worst full basho record is a 5-2. You will be seeing him easily deliver yorikiri wins to Maegashira opponents in the near future.
Birthdate: April 20, 2000
Highest Career Rank: Juryo 8 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 158-118-8
178 cm | 139 kg (5’10” | 306 lbs)
Hiradoumi has never won a lower-division yusho or even come close, but since entering sumo as a 16 year old in 2016 he’s steadily gone up the rankings. It’s been more through 5-2 and 4-3 records, and those have been spaced with some setbacks. But he is now in the middle of Juryo as a 22 year old. There’s nothing recommending future superstar here, but expect Hiradoumi to hang out as a Maegashira for a while.
Birthdate: September 3, 2002
Highest Career Rank: Juryo 6 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 57-22
186 cm | 176 kg (6’1” | 388 lbs)
Atamifuji is a future superstar. Not yet 20, he has made it to the middle of Juryo in less than two years in sumo. There is little to dissuade from the conclusion that this is a future Yokozuna. He has ideal size, with excellent balance and a command of fundamentals that leads to forceful yorikiri. Isegahama beya isn’t exactly hurting for excellence right now, but that just means he will get to face a Yokozuna in practice. He will be facing Sanyaku wrestlers in tournaments very shortly. He is at a rank in Nagoya where a yusho would likely shoot him into the top division.
Birthdate: November 12, 2000
Highest Career Rank: Juryo 5 (Natsu 2022)
Career Record: 92-53-5
190 cm | 150 kg (6’3” | 330 lbs)
Kitanowaka is another rikishi with ideal size who has been shooting up the banzuke. He is two years older than Atamifuji and just suffered an injury that saw him miss five days in May. If his ceiling might not be “dominant Yokozuna” that doesn’t mean he isn’t impressive and on track to be in Makuuchi soon. He favors yorikiri with his second most common winning kimarite being uwatenage, of all things.
Birthdate: February 14, 2000
Highest Career Rank: Maegashira 14 (Natsu 2022)
Career Record: 143-96
189 cm | 179 kg (6’2” | 394 lbs)
Oho is still trying to establish himself in Makuuchi. Famously, his grandfather was the legendary 1960s Yokozuna Taiho. That combo means he has been tracked since he joined sumo four years ago and can feel like a disappointment. Stepping back, this is a 22 year old Maegashira with ideal size and a strong track record in the lower levels. Oho hasn’t set the top division on fire, but he is set up to have a very, very good Makuuchi career at a minimum.
Birthdate: August 26, 1999
Highest Career Rank: Maegashira 3 (Hatsu 2021)
Career Record: 168-126-8
189 cm | 159 kg (6’2” | 350 lbs)
In January 2021, Kotoshoho was a 21 year old who had gotten all the way to Maegashira 3. Then he had a 2-13 basho, followed by an injury plagued basho. He is still, a year and a half later, making his way back to that level. An immensely gifted rikishi, he has prototypical size for a top rikishi and often has an athleticism advantage. In his most recent two basho return to Makuuchi, he has often been wild on the dohyo. He’s still won half of his matches in the last two tournaments. If and when he settles down, he could start dominating.
Birthdate: November 19, 1997
Highest Career Rank: Maegashira 2 (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 229-163-10
189 cm | 166 kg (6’2” | 366 lbs)
In just 4 months, Kotonowaka would no longer be eligible for this list. Yet he is knocking on the door of Sanyaku and is possibly the best fundamental wrestler in sumo right now. He certainly never loses his feet or gets out of sorts on the dohyo. He is the son of a former Sekiwake, whose ring name he was given, and maternal grandson of a former Yokozuna, Kotozakura. If he becomes an Ozeki, it is said he will get his grandfather’s shikona. That could happen in the next year if he simply keeps performing at the level he has in the first three basho of 2022. He is under 25 and a current sumo star.
Birthdate: May 22, 1999
Highest Career Rank: Komusubi (Nagoya 2022)
Career Record: 170-123-2
185 cm | 141 kg (6’ | 311 lbs)
Heralded for being the nephew of former Yokozuna Asashoryu and winning consistently at the lower levels, Hoshoryu has had “future star” imprinted on him since he joined sumo in 2017. Blessed with an arsenal of throws and a mean streak, he has also made his mark in fans’ minds. That being said, he has yet to dominate in Makuuchi and still seems to be finding himself. So it’s important to remember he has already reached sumo’s fourth highest rank and is younger than six of the other members of this list. In the past few months, he has added muscle and adopted more straight ahead sumo. Maybe that will take him to the next level. When he does take a jump to a new level, he would essentially be going on an Ozeki run. That’s the position he has already put himself in.