Ranking in Sumo accounts for absolutly everything. It affects when you
get up in the morning, how much you get to eat, how much freedom you will
have, and how you are treated in your stable.
The number of rikishi (wrestlers) is constantly changing due to people
retiring and dropping out of Sumo, but, it usually stays around 800 rikishi.
Generally, if a rikishi has a kachi-koshi (winning record) he will go
up in rank. If he has a make-koshi (losing record) he will go down in
rank. In the Juryo and Makkuchi divisons, they have 15 matches per 15
day tournament. So the rikishi in Juryo and Makuuchi have to have a 8-7
record or better to be promoted. From Makushita down to Maezumo, they
have 7 bouts per 15 day tournament. So, that means they have to get a
4-3 record or better to be promoted.
system in Sumo shows a hierarchy in the Sumo world. Rikishi start
Sumo in the Maezumo (Pre-Sumo) divison after taking a long sumo class.
If they win enough bouts, they are officially entered into Sumo. They
start off in the Jonokuchi divison. Then, if they keep on getting
winning records, they will eventually make it to Juryo rank. The odds
of making it into Juryo rank are about 1:10. When you reach Juryo
rank, it is a large jump. You are finally considered a "Professional"
rikishi, you start to earn a large paycheck, you are allowed to wear
a silk mawashi (belt) in tournaments, and you are given tsukebito.
(Tsukebito are attendants. The people who make up the tsukebito are
lower ranked rikishi.) If he keeps on winning, he will keep on progressing
to the Makkuchi, Komusubi and Sekiwake ranks. To become a Ozeki, a
Rikishi must get about 33 wins in 3 tournaments. Then, the Sumo Association
will hold a meeting on whether or not you should be promoted. To make
it to the Highest rank, Yokozuna, You must get at least 27 wins in
2 tournaments. Then, the Sumo Association and the Yokozuna Council
will decide on if you should be promoted. If you are promoted, you
can never be demoted after that. If a Yokozuna starts to lose, however,
they will be forced to retire.
The Number of Rikishi in Sumo
Banzuke is the ranking sheet in Sumo. The banzuke is hand-written
in a special style of writing called Sumo-e. The person who writes
the banzuke is one of the high-ranking gyoji. It is usually released
about a week before each tournament. The official banzuke is quite
a hot collectors item. Most of the copies are given away to supporters
of various rikishi and supporters of certain stables. On the Banzuke,
the rikishi are divided into east and west sides. The east is the
more prestigious side. At the top of the banzuke in large print are
the Makkuchi and Juryo divisons, and below that in the small print
are the lower divisons.
A picture of Ozeki Chiyotaikai pointing to his
name on the Banzuke.