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Little dinner chat with Yamamotoyama (September 2008)

by Martina Lunau and Yukiko Ono

We met Yamamotoyama in a restaurant. It was his first meal of this day. When there is a fight he (as do many rikishi) doesn't have breakfast and has only one meal during the day - in the evening. So you can imagine, he was really, really hungry.

We had a Korean barbecue and I ate or were offered to eat some quite strange things for the German taste like raw liver, tongue and stomach.

The first question had to be about his family, was he always so big and how about his family members? Yamamotoyama told us, that his father was a boxer and that he is even taller than him. His mother is really big too.

The parents are divorced and his stepmother runs a pub. His brother used to do some sumo too when he was a kid. His little sister is still in high school. She loves mangas and comics very much and wants to become a dubbing artist for comic films one day.

Yamamotoyama himself was at Nichidai university studying economy and doing sumo in the university sumo club. He finished university after the 3rd grade and chose to join professional sumo. He decided to go to Onoe Beya, he says it's a good atmosphere in this heya.

On the day we met him he already had his kachikoshi, but then had 4 losses in a row against Kaiho, Ryuo, Aran and Bushuyama. But he said he is really relieved now and did a good job. He was relaxed - maybe a bit too relaxed, he admits. He is no longer nervous before the fights but he feels very, very tired because it's so much harder to fight for 15 days in a row than only for 7 days.

During the basho he also got a fever and thought he had caught a cold. He took some medicine for the cold but couldn't get the right one for his pain in the knee and his ankle. He felt really, really weak in the last bouts and could hardly move his legs, he said.

The next day’s fight was against Kasuganishiki. Yamamotoyama said that he fears the chin of Kasuganishiki, which is very hard and Baruto already had made his experience with it. He told us, he would try to get the mawashi immediately and set him out - which he did.

He is next to Takamisakari the most popular rikishi and the darling of the public, which he enjoys very much.

Asked about his role models in sumo Yamamotoyama mentions Chiyotaikai. He likes his spirit and mind and thinks he is a very cool guy.

They don't have very much free time as a rikishi. Yamamotoyama likes to watch TV, videos and reading comics. He often goes to a manga cafeteria to relax.

Asked about his ambitions he made jokes and said that he wants to rule the world. Of course his aim is to climb up the banzuke steadily. He wants to become the strongest man in the world. Yamamotoyama feels that his disposition is not strong enough yet and he doesn't feel comfortable in his ranking and is still fired up to go for the next steps.

We also discussed the new tachiai rules a bit. Yamamotoyama thinks that they are quite difficult. Nobody told them before the basho that they would handle it so strictly and they weren't able to train it a lot. 

Yamamotoyama says it depends very much on the gyoji and the shimpan. Hanakago Oyakata for example is very strict. When he sits in the shimpan group Yamamotoyama puts his hands down very clearly. But he says, it's very hard for a heavy rikishi like him and many other rikishi think the new rules are quite difficult as well.

A nice, outgoing and humorous rikishi, who will hopefully show us more in the future.