Sumo wrestlers are classified into ranks and divisions based on their skill level, performance, and tournament results. The sumo ranking system is hierarchical and consists of several divisions, with each division further divided into ranks. This system allows for clear differentiation between wrestlers and facilitates fair matchups during tournaments.
The highest division is called the Makuuchi division, which is where the most skilled and top-ranked wrestlers compete. The Makuuchi division consists of several ranks, starting from the lowest: Maegashira, Komusubi, Sekiwake, and finally, the three highest ranks known as Ozeki. The ultimate rank in sumo is Yokozuna, held by the most exceptional wrestlers. Yokozuna are considered grand champions and are expected to exhibit not only exceptional skill but also a strong sense of tradition and sportsmanship.
Below the Makuuchi division, there are lower divisions such as Jūryō, Makushita, Sandanme, and Jonidan. These divisions follow a similar ranking structure with multiple ranks within each. New wrestlers start in the lowest division, Jonokuchi, and gradually work their way up by achieving better results in tournaments. Promotion through the ranks is based on a wrestler's win-loss record in official tournaments, which are held every two months.
The sumo ranking system has a deep-rooted cultural significance and reflects the emphasis on hierarchy, tradition, and competition within the sport. It creates a clear path for advancement and recognition for wrestlers who excel in their matches, ensuring that the best and most dedicated individuals rise to the top ranks and achieve the prestigious titles of Ozeki and Yokozuna.
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