Yokozuna Harumafuji Facing Elbow Surgery


As pointed out by Tachiai reader Herouth, Yokozuna Harumafuji may need surgery on his left elbow. At Nagoya, Harumafuji competed with both elbows under two layers of bandages, and inner “black” bandage (which he prefers), and an outer white bandage which is required by the Sumo Kyokai.

From the Japan Times:

Yokozuna Harumafuji may require left elbow surgery, a move which would not only rule him out of the summer regional tour beginning this weekend, but also the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in September, his stablemaster said Thursday.

“He has inflammation in his left elbow and can’t extend it,” stablemaster Isegahama said.

Harumafuji is set to miss part of the regional tour but could join up (later on) “depending on how it heals,” Isegahama said.

Isegahama, however, also spoke about the possibility of an operation and said Harumafuji “would not make it in time” for the Autumn Basho starting on Sept. 10 in Tokyo should he have to go under the knife.

This is the second time that Harumafuji has sought medical intervention in an attempt to resolve problems with his elbow, the prior time being May of 2015. Like many sumo veterans, Yokozuna Harumafuji is suffering under the cumulative damage of years of competition with no chance to allow mechanical injuries to completely heal.

13 thoughts on “Yokozuna Harumafuji Facing Elbow Surgery

  1. I hope that he can learn from the travails of Kisenosato and the resurgence of Hakuho and do what’s required to heal, come back and give us one more flurry of his fierce and brilliant best!

  2. Thanks for the credit. Funny that during the basho it looked like he’s having more issues with his knee than with his elbow.

    One source I read mentioned that the decision whether to attend Aki will be based on an arthroscopy. This means he’ll need to do that early enough as healing from the arthroscopy itself takes some time – and he needs to practice as well.

    Another source says that he’s currently undergoing treatment in Mongolia. What’s the reputation of sports medicine in Mongolia, anyway?

    • I imagine it depends on the doctor and the facility. After losing half of my tooth to a quack dentist here in DC, I’d be more likely to visit his dentist in Ulan Bator than another dentist here.

      A physician I know who travels to visit foreign medical facilities has remarked that it’s very interesting to tour squalid, stone-age medical facilities in 3rd World countries that are for the public, and then to tour the pristine, modern, private hospitals in the same country.

      • Well, I don’t know about the general state of medicine in Mongolia. But sports medicine is a special, well, specialty. Here in Israel, when athletes have injuries, they may have arthroscopy locally, but go to the USA for anything beyond that. Now, medicine here is far from backwards and there is even some considerable medical tourism here. But being a small country, with very few international-level athletes, domestic sports medicine experts are virtually nonexistent. Hence reliance on Europe and the USA. I imagine that the oppositi could also be true – a country that otherwise has poor medical facilities, if it has a large professional or Olympic program, could have excellent sports medicine facilities. That’s why I’m wondering about Mongolia.

        • Yes, so you just put your finger on something that has been tugging at the back of my mind. Are there cases where the sumotori would be better served by a trip to some US / EU sports medicine centres? I don’t seem to recall a single case where a injured sumo guy sought treatment in the west.

          • Well, according to Wikipedia, Akebono most certainly did (May 1994). Being American, it’s not that surprising, though.

            Anyway, though I’m sure Western facilities would be excellent for the repair jobs per se, I wonder if they would provide good rehabilitation. Would you treat a Sumo wrestler the same as western-type wrestlers, who tend to be a lot leaner? Maybe the same as weightlifters?

          • Takanohana had knee surgery in France after his major injury in 2001, and if I’m not mistaken went back there several times during his lengthy rehab period.

        • Hey I’m from Israel too. Wasn’t expecting to see another Israeli on this site! If you know anything about ANY activities relating to Sumo in Israel, especially anything kid-friendly, please let me know!

          • Heh. Well, no, I know of nothing. It would probably be best to keep in touch with Moti Dichne, you know. If anything turns up he’s much more likely to know about it than I.

  3. I wish him a full recovery. I love watching his matches! There is an ease to the way that he fights that is just amazing to watch. You almost think he won the match by pure luck, but then you see him do it over and over!

    • Luck, low-risk sumo, and a wife with an athletic background who essentially worked as his personal physiotherapist for a decade.

  4. Update: no surgery. He’ll just gambarize. According to Nikkan Sports, he joined the summer tour today, apparently because today’s location was his daughter’s school. He said that the inflammation is “mostly gone”, and that he has decided against a surgery because it would take a year to recover from. After he had a surgery on his right elbow, he was favoring it and wrestling mostly with his left. He says that trying to protect one injured side will strain a man’s body, and there’s nothing to be done about that.

    In short, he is just sucking it in.


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