Wakatakakage, Wakamotoharu 10th pair of brothers since Showa era

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Wakatakakage smiles as he is awarded the Technique Prize on May 23 last year at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

There have been numerous pairs of brothers gaining popularity in the world of professional sumo by reaching the uppermost makuuchi division.

Some of the names include Wakanohana and Hanada (or Takanohana); Wakahanada and Takahanada (the sons of Takanohana) as well as the duo of Sakahoko and Terao.

Since the start of the Showa era, there have been nine pairs of brothers in sumo. But another sibling rikishi pair joined this group at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament that began Sunday.

Wakamotoharu, the older brother of Wakatakakage, who is listed atop the east-side maegasihira — the lowest rank in the makuuchi division — has been promoted, making them the 10th pair of siblings to make the climb.

They are the first brothers wrestling out of the Arashio stable since former makuuchi rikishi Sokokurai took over the stable.

Wakamotoharu is the first from the stable to reach the makuuchi division since Wakatakakage did so at the Kyushu basho in November 2019, and is also the eighth wrestler from Fukushima Prefecture.

They have become the first pair of brothers to emerge in the sport since Hidenoumi and Tobizaru both wrestled at the Autumn Tournament in September 2020.

The lineage of these brothers is also amazing. Their grandfather is a former komusubi, Wakabayama Sadao, who belonged to Tokitsukaze stable and later became a stablemaster at Shikoroyama stable.

Meanwhile, their father Wakashinobu only made it as high as No. 51 in the west makushita division — one slot away from the juryo division.

Meantime, Wakatakamoto, the older brother of Wakamotoharu, is also ranked 17th in the east makushita division. Wakatakamoto, for his part, would surely like to match his younger brothers as soon as possible.

Their grandfather Wakabayama, born in China, was a sumo wrestler who made it through the school of hard knocks, having made his debut in the ring as a rikishi trained at the sumo dojo run by Futabayama — the predecessor to the current Tokitsukaze stable.

Much like Wakatakakage, he was a wrestler of diminutive stature who would start off bouts with a quick thrust before relying on various techniques to compete with his opponents. He made a spectacular showing from the early postwar period until the latter half of the 1950s.

At the Kyushu tourney last year, Wakamotoharu and his stout frame — 186 centimeters and 138 kilograms — posted 11 victories as the top-ranked wrestler in the west juryo division.

The 28-year-old rikishi, whose bread and butter is latching onto his opponent’s belt with his left hand and pushing them, has high expectations.

Asked about his feelings on rising to the division he long pined to reach, he said modestly: “I feel anxious about 80% of the time. I just want to do my best so that I can outdo my younger brother.”

— Miki is a sumo expert.