Yokozuna Kisenosato Withdraws From Hatsu


After a disastrous 1-4 start to Hatsu, Yokozuna Kisenosato has decided to withdraw from the Hatsu basho. Reports from NHK don’t cite the reason for going kyujo but they do cite that this is the first time in 14 years that a Yokozuna has sat out all or part of 5 consecutive tournaments. The last time this happened, it was Yokozuna Musashimaru.

The question that comes up now – where does Kisenosato go from here? Its probably too late for reconstructive surgery and there is no know way that he can regain any appreciable strength on his left side.

The crew at Tachiai hopes Kisenosato can find a way to return but it’s quite unlikely at this point.

34 thoughts on “Yokozuna Kisenosato Withdraws From Hatsu

  1. Even if he would somehow be able to physically recover, this also goes against the strict order of the NSK. I fear this may be it and he will be asked to retire now. Sad to see him go out like this.

    He strikes me as the most tragic figure in sumo of this decade. Never able to clinch that promotion and when he finally does, it comes at the cost of the injury that would also end his career.

    • I agree with this completely, but then again, I would say that he went out having achieved sumo’s highest rank. He owns a kabu, so he’s going to be in sumo for as long as he chooses. Could he have done more? Yes, of course, but for all great athletes there comes a time to go.

      This may be his time to cut the mage, hang up the rope and turn to creating the next generation of rikishi.

      • His back to back yusho at the start of 2017 were phenomenal and will live long in the memory. Everyone in sumo knows that it is due to seriously bad injury rather than a lack of ability that he is struggling as a yokozuna, and that will not be forgotten when looking back on his career.

      • What a shame. My favorite memory in the entire sport was seeing Kis crying like a baby during the national anthem after one of his victories last year. You could he was so embarrassed by his tears, but he just couldn’t help himself. What a wonderfully human moment that was and now to see him facing the end makes ME want to cry.

        • That was the March 2017 tournament, I think?

          I say this because that was the first tournament I watched more than casually — and that moment really stood out for me, the contrast between these wonderful stoics in the ring (because I saw the Harumafuji match pretty much my first day of watching, and I’d have been on the floor howling instead of getting up and making my proper bow) and all that emotion after, and then trying to make sense of all the hoopla re A New Yokozuna And Also He’s Japanese, and then here comes another basho in two months, and now here I am addicted and Harumafuji’s gone and Kisenosato is likely gone and I guess what I am saying is OMG WHAT KIND OF HEART-DEMOLISHING FANDOM HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO…

          …and also thank you, to Kisenosato and all these amazing athletes. I am so glad to have gotten to have seen as much of each one’s sumo as possible. *sigh*

          • Trust me, it gets better from here. Kisenosato’s short Yokozuna tenure was (until he got hurt) surprisingly good. 6 years from now, when he’s an Oyakata, it’s going to be neat to see his new rikishi. The wheel turns, and things continue to be pretty damn good. You joined just before a period of massive change. The cohort that is between 28-33 right now represents a group of rikishi so dominant, so skilled and incredibly good that we are really sad to see them go.

            But look at Asanoyama, Abi, Ryuden, Takakeisho, Onosho, Enho, and a ton of others. There are some amazing rikishi who are just starting their careers. It’s time for the honored elders to hang up the mawashi, and for times to change. We love them all, and thank them for their amazing performance. We will never forget them.

          • And being the weird contrarian to typical fandom that I am sometimes, that March 2017 victory was one of my worst memories of watching live sumo. Him beating Terunofuji twice in the finals made me so angry it was hard to sleep that night.

            So his emotional display felt completely hollow in my heart compared to Hakuho and Harumafuji’s recent victories. I’ll probably be sadder when Hattorizakura finally hangs up his mawashi. Kisenosato will have a fine future. *shrug*

          • What about that victory made you angry, Nista? I felt at the time that this was an amazing feat that underlined that the decision to award the promotion was correct. Kise grew beyond himself that day and clinched the victory no one had believed possible after seeing his injury happen. The kami were strong in him that day.

            So why did that make you angry?

    • Asked to retire?


      Takanohana missed 7 straight tournaments as Yokozuna (July 2001 through July 2002) and returned in September 2002 with a Jun Yusho.

      • That was an actual rehab period, though. Kisenosato surely would have been afforded the same leeway if he’d gotten his muscle tear fixed properly. But this current start-stop pattern where it’s anyone’s guess if Kise will even make it to the middle weekend in any basho, that can’t go on much longer.

        • Much? Any. He must retire. If he took a year off, could he come back at 100%? I doubt it. And no way we could talk about 11 consecutive kyujo. 1 more won’t help anything.

      • He returned after the YDC gave him an ultimatum. Of course, at the time they didn’t think they will be running out of Japanese Yokozuna.

        • As is mentioned below, I really hope the events with Kisenosato and Takanoiwa help break through the stubborn old guard mindset to improve the rules and regulations. Standardize some modern sports medicine across all heya, and don’t expect rikishi to put on a stern face and gambarize with injuries that any other pro sport would treat seriously. These guys all deserve a long full life without crippling injuries after competing.

          Sorry Kisenosato, though I never cheered for you, no one deserves to go out this way. I hope he makes a good oyakata, and treats the youngsters well. I expect to see him on Abema telling women all about how sumo works in a few years. :)

          But maybe a nice relaxing tropical vacation first!

          • I was referring to the Takanohana ultimatum. At the time there was another Yokozuna (Musashimaru), and Asashoryu started just when Takanohana retired. I think nobody in the YDC imagined at the time that it would take 14 more years before they had another Japanese Yokozuna. Takanohana was the last surviving one. Maybe if they knew they would have allowed him one or two additional kyujo, just like they seem to be doing with Kisenosato.

              • Me? I believe he should have retired as soon as he decided not to have surgery. But I don’t have any vested interest in having a Japanese Yokozuna around.

  2. What do I know, but I said to my friends right at the start that they were too anxious to push Kinsenosato up to the highest level too fast. Then, in a remarkably foolish move, the newly crowned Yokozuna doesn’t take the correct rest and rehabilitation as soon as he first became injured, instead trying to fight through the problem. Foolish! Now this may very well be an incredibly short and embarrassing end to what might have been.

    • I hope this brings injury reform to the sport. Kisenosato, Terunofuji, Takanoiwa, Aminishiki, Ura, Toyonoshima… It’s a rough call because Hakuho’s toe injuries aren’t an ACL or torn pec. But there is an effective policy there somewhere.

      • Not sure what Toyonoshima is doing in that list…? He got the surgery and took (most of) the required amount of rest afterwards. He’s just not good enough for the sekitori ranks anymore, even outside the added issue that he can’t seem to keep from picking up frequent new injuries.

  3. There is no doubt that Kise is a Tough Dude. It took guts to win that second yusho and even more to keep trying after the injury.

    • I felt it was more determination and stubbornness. After he became Yokozuna, he felt that it was his duty to give his best and try as hard as he could to live up to the expectations.

      You would not have seen him go Kyujo over a stubbed toe…

      • If you’re referring to Hakuho I think the problem is significantly more than a ‘stubbed toe’.

        Perhaps if Kisenosato had had the intelligence to treat his initial injury properly his time as a yokozuna would have lasted longer. I feel for the guy but I don’t see how his fans can be happy with him appearing in tournaments briefly and then going kyujo.

  4. am heartbroken for him, you can see the emotions, and see what the sumo world (and the spirit of sumo) means to him. just want to give him a big hug :'(

    my Yoshikaze has now ‘broken’ 2 Yokuzuna in a row! (sorry, that was a little flippant)…. I hope Kis knows the support he has in the big wide world, within Japan and from the many sumo-loving realms outside japanese shores… we want only the best for him, full recovery physically and now spiritually

  5. I first got into sumo during the late 90’s era and the great Takanohana-Akebono rivalry (among others). Akebono was my guy. After he retired, Takanohana retired and they stopped airing sumo where I was I kinda lost interest. Then I heard the news about Kotoshogiku being the first Japanese-born rikishi to win a tournament in 10 years and I was like, “WTF? Seriously?! What’s going on here?” So I started getting back into it, discovered Jason’s sumo channel and other online outlets (including this fantastic blog) and revived my interest in a major way. I had to relearn all the various rikishi (some still elude me) and find new favorites. Kisenosato, for whatever reason, reminded me of the late great British actor Sidney Greenstreet. Something about that haughty mug of his. I really liked the guy but I have to say I was a doubter when he was promoted. Seemed like he’d been pushed ahead more for the sake of having a Japanese-born yokozona after such a long drought. But after that amazing, gutsy playoff win in his first basho as a yokozuna my doubts were completely erased. He earned it. That emotional singing of the national anthem at the end really choked me up. So sad that the injuries have kept him from achieving more.

  6. Anybody else notice the hombre sitting just a few rows back from the dohyo wearing a gold hat? KIN-BOSHI, get it? That was straight savage.

  7. Sad that he’s gone on the injury list (again).But from the other hand ,it was devastating to watch him compete in such condition.So he made a good desicion.What’s now?Nobody knows.I hope he finds some solution …I had always a feeling ,that no one even gave him a proper advice what to do or how to treat his injuries…I don’t know ,maybe I’m wrong.

  8. I can’t see any point in Kisenosato continuing. If he was steadily fighting his way back to fitness that would be different but there is no progress: his wins in the last 5 basho have numbered 6-2-0-4-1. He’s a proud and dignified man and will not want to go on embarrassing himself. He should now concentrate on training up the next generation. 20 years down the line he’ll probably be JSA chairman.


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