Day 15 Decides Kisenosato’s Promotion
Achieving the rank of Yokozuna is an enormous undertaking. It’s so monumental, that only 73 rikishi in the modern era have attained it. No only must a rikishi deliver a consistent and outstanding record after achieving Ozeki (which is no small achievement itself), but it requires winning several tournaments, or an equivalent performance.
Critics can rightly claim that a single tournament victory is not several. But then there is the equivalent performance. Firstly, Kisenosato has been forever a bridesmaid, 12 Jun-Yusho (runner up) meaning he was one win behind the tournament winner, 9 special prizes and 3 kinboshi over a rather impressive career. In 2016 he had the most wins, beating out Hakuho and Harumafuji.
But it really comes down to politics. As we have discussed many times on Tachiai, the Japanese public in general and sumo fans especially, have been without a Japanese Yokozuna for over a decade. The political pressure on the Yokozuna Decision Committee to award the zuna to Kisenosato will be overwhelming. In addition, it would be very good for sumo as a sport.
The three current Yokozuna are all from Mongolia, and two of them are in questionable medical shape as of today. Adding a new Yokozuna, a Japanese Yokozuna, to the mix would greatly improve the prospects for the future of sumo.
While Tachiai and other fan sites outside of Japan are raising these questions, the discussion is raging in the Japanese press. Some highlights include:
Japan Daily: YDC Chairman Moriya “We will discuss his promotion, but opinion is divided on the board. I want him to win tomorrow (against Hakuho), then I will strongly support (his promotion)”
Jiji Press: Japan Sumo Assn Member Hakko “Let him fight again tomorrow, I don’t want to disappoint the fans, but he has to win tomorrow to be discussed (for promotion)”
We will be glued to NHK overnight Saturday to catch early news of the outcome.