Sumo Fan Favorite Ura Joins Jungyo Injury Squad


It was clear that in the course of the Nagoya basho, that fan favorite Ura damaged his right knee competing against some of the top men of sumo. Up until Nagoya, Ura had remained largely unhurt during his sumo career, and it allowed him to compete with a level of energy and agility that few had seen before.

In an article published in Yahoo Japan, Ura is now out with the crew on tour, bringing sumo closer to the fans. His injury is significant enough that his jungyo participation is limited, and he does take keiko or scrimmage with the other rikishi. In the article, he admits that he was likely not yet ready to fight the Ozeki and Yokozuna corps, and as a result is now trying to heal damage to his right knee’s lateral ligaments (that hold the knee together). He still intends to enter competition at Aki in September.

Commentary: Clearly the NSK has a problem, with it’s star sumotori being frequently injured, and more of them taking injury each basho. When fan favorites don’t show up for events, fans lose interest, sponsors lose interest and the NSK fails to achieve revenue goals. So nobody gets a chance to heal up, and everyone just suffers a bit more each time. As a result, sumo as a whole degrades and competition declines. Someone needs to fix this.

26 thoughts on “Sumo Fan Favorite Ura Joins Jungyo Injury Squad

  1. Yes, yes, very serious, very worrisome, but the real story here is clearly that zebra yukata.
    I wonder how the injury metrics would be affected by widening the lip of the dohyo by say, six inches. My appraisal is that with any contact sport injury is essentially unavoidable, but so many injuries seem to occur during topples from the edge of the dohyo platform after the match has already ended. (The width of a standard dohyo was widened once before, so there is precedent)

    • Wider dohyo, lower dohyo, crashmats, clear area around dohyo, fewer basho, shorter basho, wrestlers allowed one basho off each year without affecting rank: that’s seven suggestions thought up in five minutes by a non-expert so it should not be that difficult to make the sport safer.

      • Good list. But you know people who runs the show are traditional. So expect no changes. For me, the last tournament is so boring. Before, we know that the last week is unpredictable with ozeki and yokozuna can beat each other any time any day. Now no one pose danger to the boss

        • On the tradition point, someone might like to point out to the old boys who run the show that the 15 bout basho only came in around 1939 and the six basho calendar only started in 1958.

          Do they really need fifteen days to find a champion? Seven matches with rest days in between and a play-off on the final day if needed seems to work fine in the lower divisions.

          • That would mean that they have been doing it for 50 years and it seems to have worked out OK… And doing this would mean basically half the income, which I don’t think any sports association in the world is likely to consider.

            I’m not saying that nothing should change, but it may not be the schedule that’s to blame for the whole thing. I have been thinking lately that perhaps the increase in the number of throws compared to plain yori-kiri/oshi-dashi in the top ranks, and the increase in the size of the participants – height and weight – may be behind the issue. Technical solutions like padding/lowering the dohyo may allow them to improve wrestlers’ health without losing the income.

          • Economizing on the time required to complete a tournament is what *amateur* sports do.

          • What about we put weight limit? I think rikishi dont get injured often in the past because they are not that heavy. The weight gives too much burden on the back, knees, ankle, etc.

  2. Kinboshi being given left and right with unhealthy yokozuna. No challenger even at ozeki rank. Takayasu is not yet at that level

    Hakuho is collecting wins with no effort. He can win even with holding a coffee with one hand

    • Eh, combat sport. People get hurt. My knock is that there seems to be no provision to allow rikishi to heal and return to health.

      • The veteran guys are simply banged up all over from a decade of fighting in the joi, same as their predecessors from past generations were. Kisenosato’s a bit of a special case, but I’m not too sure if Kakuryu, Harumafuji and Goeido even have an attainable 100% state anymore, no matter how much rest they might take.

        • And this is the real magic of Hakuho. He has remained remarkably healthy. Whoever hopes to achieve what he has achieved must stay healthy.

          • The crazy thing is that he’s not healthy in any way. Not in the way we’d think of as healthy, anyway. His magic is that through serious and debilitating elbow, foot, and knee injuries, he mostly kept fighting – and winning. The man is incredible.

  3. One thing they should do at the very least is put some padding on the floor around the dohyo to cushion the impact a little bit if the rikishi hits the floor.

        • Yeah! This is the fun thing. The sumotori either carry a purse, or they have on of their little elves carry it for them. When you see a group out in town, they have purses. I found this most amusing the first time I saw it, but it became normal / expected after a time. The only part that I find surprising in the picture above is that Ura is carrying his own.

          • I have seen him with the same purse in another picture from the past. The funny part is not the existence of the purse (though I’d expect an “alpha male” to use a straight tote bag rather than a cutesy purse). It’s the nice color coordination. First rule of matching accessories is that when you wear a patterned garment, your accessories should be plain. Check. The color of course has to match the garment. Check. Accents that go together with the colors of the pattern are acceptable. And that bag does have pinkish highlights. Check. Then there are the setta. Black to go with the yukata, light straps to go with the obi. The man is quite a fashionista.

          • So what cracks me up is the shops these guys go to that cater to their yukata and accessory collections actually help them coordinate all of this stuff. There is a whole small but vibrant industry that serves the rikishi community in Sumida (and nearby). That was one of the fun things about spending 10 days in Sumida during the basho, there is a whole lot of other things going on, which I really enjoyed discovering and learning about.


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