Maegashira is a rank in sumo wrestling. It is the lowest of five ranks in the top Makuuchi division.
All the makuuchi wrestlers who are not ranked in sanyaku are ranked as maegashira, from one at the top downwards. In each rank there are two wrestlers, the higher ranked is given an east designation and the other the west.
The number of wrestlers in makuuchi is fixed (at 42 in 2004) but the number in sanyaku is not. Thus the number of maegashira ranks can vary, but is typically between 15 and 17. (This gives a makuuchi division split of around 10 sanyaku and 32 maegashira).
Movement within the maegashira ranks can be minor or extreme, depending on the wrestler's score in the previous 15 bout tournament. For example, an M-2 that has an 8-7 record might only be promoted one level to M-1 for the next tournament. An M-14 that wins the yusho (or division championship) could be promoted to the sanyaku rank of Komusubi. Indeed, this happened in March 2001 when Takatoriki of Futagayama beya won the yusho with a 13-2 record.
When a maegashira defeats a yokozuna, the highest sumo ranking, it is called a kinboshi and he is rewarded monetarily for the victory for the remainder of his career. Akenoshima, also of Futagayama beya, is the all-time leader with 16 kinboshi.
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