Yokozuna Campaign Thrown Into Doubt By Loss To Rank and File Wrestler Okinoumi (隠岐の海)
The over-arching theme going into the September tournament was that the great Japanese hope, Kisenosato would press once again to win the tournament and ascend in rank to Yokozuna. If he should do that, it would break the Mongolian lock on the top rank in sumo, and give the Japanese fans one of their own in the elite ranks. With Hokuho on the bench until at least November, it was if the sumo gods had smiled upon Kisenosato, blessing his path to victory.
Listen, Great Pumpkin – you have to earn it. To win the championship, Kisenosato would need 15 to 13 wins over the next two weeks. That includes facing all of the other San’yaku, both Yokozuna, and a few rank and file types he is supposed to help “educate” in the ways of sumo.
He came off strong at the Tachiai where he nearly stood Okinoumi up, and walked him to the edge of the ring. At that point, Okinoumi decided he was not going down. Okinoumi dug deep, found the power to circle Kisenosato to his right, and then it was Kisenosato with his heels on the bales. One hard push with everything he had, and the aspiring Kisenosato had lost.
For the overall campaign of Kisenosato reaching Yokozuna, this is a huge blow. He had been looking very rough in pre-tournament practice bouts. Many had assumed he was “sandbagging” and would bring the thunder once it was for real.
His path to the rope is still open, but the climb is much steeper. Congratulations to Okinoumi, who proves himself worthy of his East Maegashira 1 rank in taking down the Great Pumpkin.