Aki Story 2 – Goeido & Terunofuji Kadoban


Kadoban

A recurring theme in the past year has been the problems with the current crop of Ozeki, and their tendency to turn in losing records. Ozeki do not get demoted when they end a tournament with a majority losing record. It is, perhaps, a nod to the great difficulty required to rack up 33 wins over the course of 3 tournaments. Instead they get a “warning” that a second consecutive losing record will demote them to Sekiwake. An Ozeki in this state is declared “Kadoban”. This in fact happened to Kotoshogiku within the last year, and he was sadly unable to resurrect his Ozeki rank in the following tournaments. He continues to fade.

Headed into Aki, both Terunofuji and Goeido are at risk of demotion. Goeido was in this status last year entering the Aki basho, and responded by racking up 15 straight victories and taking the yusho. Sadly Goeido could not parlay this into a consistent elevation in performance, and has mixed results for the following tournament. His breathtaking Aki performance led us to coin the term “Goeido 2.0”, which described what seemed to be an entirely different rikishi. He was bold, committed and attacked with a ferocity that left no room for retreat. But Goeido suffered a significant ankle injury during Hatsu, and was forced to seek treatment that included steel pins and plates.

Similarly, Terunofuji underwent surgery in June to attempt repair on his knee, an injury that frequently kept him from top performance. Sadly it was not healed enough for competition when Terunofuji began the Nagoya basho, and he soon withdrew. Since going kyujo, he retired to his native Mongolia for recovery and training, and his working hard to be in condition for the basho.

Both of these men are fierce competitors, and we hope that both of them can clear their kadoban status with style. If reports of injury among the Yokozuna hold true, it may provide some relief to both men, who would find their schedules a bit easier, and their chances of a solid winning record increased.

Japan Times Covers Wakaichiro


Japan-Times

Photo above is from the Japan Times article, and likely taken by John Gunning

In his second article for the Japan Times, noted sumo personality John Gunning looks at the increasing number of rikishi who only have one Japanese parent. These men are able to join sumo as Japanese and don’t count against each stable’s quota for a single foreign born athlete. The “One Foreigner” rule was put in place in an effort to keep the sport from being flooded with Mongolians, who at a time looked to be taking over the sport.

John’s article covers a lot of ground, all of it quite interesting to a sumo fan. He also devotes some space to covering Wakaichiro, which will help raise his profile in the sumo community. I must admit, that it seems that Wakaichiro is already doing a decent job of doing that himself, as he is personable and quietly charismatic.

Do head over to the Japan Times and read it all.

Ozeki Terunofuji Preparing To Compete


kaiju mode

As blog reader, commenter and sumo super-sleuth Herouth posted in the Endo thread, there is a tiny dribble of news about another Tachiai favorite, Ozeki and sometimes Kaiju, Terunofuji. Fans will recall he withdrew from Nagoya on day 6, after winning only one of his first five matches. Terunofuji had undergone knee surgery just a few weeks before, and was clearly not healed enough to execute Ozeki level sumo.

Since withdrawing from Nagoya, he returned to his native Mongolia to rest and train. Apparently, it may have done him some good, as he is now back training with his stable (Isegahama) in Tokyo, working towards being ready for the Aki basho in just over one week.

The Ozeki was quoted in an article in Nikkan Sports, “I am going to train hard, use my sumo, and win the yusho”. This week Terunofuji has been sparring at home with Takarafuji and Homarefuji. About his kneed, he says, “I am getting used to it now, but it’s not yet quite ready. My strength is steadily returning”.

Ozeki Terunofuji enters the Aki basho as a kadoban Ozeki, at risk of losing his rank if he fails to secure a winning record. That being said, a healthy Terunofuji is a fearsome rikishi, and is capable of defeating even Hakuho, if his confidence is in place.

We look forward to a strong and competitive Terunofuji in the upcoming tournament.

Endo Doubtful For Aki


Endo-Kokugikan

Sumo fan favorite, Endo, withdrew from the Nagoya tournament with injury to his ankle, and during the summer break sought medical treatment. It is not yet know if the laparoscopic surgery on his left ankle resolved the issues that have been plaguing him, but in a recent article in Nikkan Sports, Endo states that he is not sure he will be in condition to participate in the upcoming Aki basho.

Per the report, he is not currently engaging in any real training or practice matches, and on his chances of competing in the fall tournament, “I do not know yet”.

Given his vigorous demotion in the recent banzuke (Maegashira 3 to Maegashira 14), missing Aki would likely place him in Juryo for the November tournament in Kyushu. While it would be a blow to his pride, a revitalized Endo would likely have little trouble returning quickly to the upper division.  Endo has battled back from Juryo once before in early 2016, after a string of injuries has left a once rising star struggling to maintain his sumo.

Tachiai wishes Endo good health and a speedy recovery.

Yokozuna Kisenosato Remains Doubtful For Aki


Kisenosato-Stretch Left

Yokozuna Kisenosato is continuing to struggle to make himself ready for the upcoming Aki basho, based on reports in the Japanese sumo press. He continues to train with lower ranked rikishi at the Tagonoura stable, but has yet to take training with his normal sparring partner, Ozeki Takayasu. His focus continues to be on ensuring range of motion and some strength exercises for his injured left upper and lower body.

With less than two weeks to go, the fact that he is not actively in matches as part of his training is indicative of a rikishi who is not yet healed enough to complete. While he did some limited training during the jungyo PR tour, he did not actually appear to attempt any actual training bouts.

As we surmised in the Tachiai Aki Banzuke Podcast, we think that he may not even start the basho, and should probably sit out the fall tournament in hopes of returning strong for Kyushu.

Aki Story 1 – Yoshikaze, 35 Year Old Sekiwake


Yoshikaze

Readers of the site know that I am a huge fan of Yoshikaze. I sometimes refer to him a “The Berserker”, out of deference to the norse warriors who would throw themselves into battle with no regard for their safety or survival. As a result, Yoshikaze frequently ends a basho with his face a bloody mess, and has at least once been hospitalized for his injuries.

After two tournaments with winning records at Komusubi, Yoshikaze now finds himself at the rank of Sekiwake. This is not his first time at this rank, having held it for the first two basho for 2016. What makes his current posting unique is his age. Yoshikaze is now 35 years old. I have been trying plumb the depths of sumodb to see how many rikishi have been able to rank at Sekiwake at 35 or above, but I would assume that the number is small.

From all reports, Yoshikaze is taking it all in stride, and even joked that he could in fact become the oldest rikishi ever promoted to Ozeki. While I don’t think anyone expects that, it would be a wonderful thing to see.

We look forward to Yoshikaze’s return to the Sekiwake rank, and his tour through a banged-up San’yaku.

Aki Banzuke Podcast


Aki-Banzuke-Card SM

Sadly, Audio Only…

I must confess that your humble associate editor fouled up the podcast recording, and failed to set the system to capture Andy’s lovely face.  So you would have had 43 minutes of my mug, reacting to everything you could not see Andy saying. So the podcast for the Aki banzuke is audio only.

It’s on the long side, but we finish with discussing a possible match between Wakaichro and objects in excess of 600 pounds….

The podcast is also on YouTube, but it is audio only as well. I will gamberize for our next session.