One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: the highest rank of wrestler included in the opening section of a sumo tournament; (in later use) the lower rank of wrestler within the Makunouchi division; a member of this rank.
Late 19th century. From Japanese maegashira from mahe- (now mae-) front, first part (in mae-zumō opening section of sumo performance) + -gashira, combining form of kashira head, top (part), leader.
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