Update on Hakuho’s Injury

The Haru Jungyo – regional tour – started today with a dedication dohyo-iri and competition at Ise Grand Shrine, Mie prefecture.

Hakuho took this opportunity to answer media questions about his injury. As it turned out, he was diagnosed with a tear in the coracobrachialis, an inner muscle located near the short head of the biceps. This is a rare injury.

The Yokozuna says that the tear in this muscle should not prevent him from grabbing the mawashi or doing tsuppari, but flexing his arm “Popeye” style, gives him discomfort. His doctors presented him with a surgical option, but he decided against it, as “it takes too much time”. Instead he opted to rest the muscle.

He plans to consult with his doctors again in the days to come. However, he is not resting at home, but will continue the regional tour with the rest of the sekitori. Currently he is not participating in bouts, and at Ise he performed dohyo-iri and “the senshi vow”.

Ozeki Prediction Contest Winners: @GhostVindaloo & @davidaconrad

Congratulations to our Ozeki Prediction Contest winners! @GhostVindaloo and @davidaconrad correctly chose Goeido, Takayasu, and Takakeisho as the May Ozeki cohort…and in the right order.

A lot of interesting work has gone into crowd predictions of the future…particularly around financial markets but sports are more interesting, no? So with that in mind, way back in February, I asked Twitter and on the blog, how many ozeki will we have? It turns out, the crowd was right! I was way wrong, as usual, choosing 5. *DO NOT bring up yu-SHODAI. Terrible pun; even worse prediction.*

Entering Haru Basho, there was a lot of uncertainty around this, with Tochinoshin’s kadoban status, and two possible ozeki runs in the offing from recent Emperor’s Cup winners, Takakeisho & Tamawashi. Come to think of it, Tochinoshin may also qualify as a recent yusho winner, but with his injury clearly hampering his success and the inability to sit out January or March to heal, the probability of his demotion was high.

Though Tamawashi’s putative ozeki run was over after the first few days, Takakeisho’s promotion and Tochinoshin’s demotion came down to their epic senshuraku matchup in a spectacular winner-take-all fashion. Perhaps the “Super Unknown” of this banzuke lineup was the lineup order between Goeido and Takayasu, in which case hometown hero Goeido did not disappoint. He put together a great 12-wins to solidify his Ozeki 1 East status for May.

Congratulations to @GhostVindaloo and @davidaconrad for reading the tea leaves better than me, and wear your Tachiai swag proudly!

Breaking News: Former Yokozuna Futahaguro Koji Has Passed Away

Koji

Tachia has learned that former Yokozuna Futahaguro Koji, also know as Koji Kitao, has passed away due to renal failure at the age of fifty-five.  The sports 60th Yokozuna, Futahaguro was the first since 1942 to be promoted to sumo’s most prestigious rank without winning a single Yusho. While he did runner up in the two Basho before his promotion, it is generally accepted that Futahaguro was the beneficiary of a logjam of Ozeki and Ozeki-level rikishi at the top of the Banzuke. With five Ozeki already, and Sekiwake Hoshi (the future Yokozuna Hokutoumi) having earned his promotion, the NSK had to make room and thus elevated Futahaguro in 1986. This ultimately was a poor decision, as Futahaguro failed to meet expectations for much of his tenure as Yokozuna.  His career came to an end following a conflict with his Oyakata in 1987. When questioned about abusing his tsukebito, Futahaguro reportedly stormed out of the stable and struck the Oyakata’s wife while leaving. As a result, Futahaguro’s retirement papers were filed by his Oyakata without his knowledge, and thus he became the first Yokozuna to ever be expelled from sumo without a hearing. This early retirement also meant that Futahaguro would become the only Yokozuna in history, to never win a Yusho.

Following his sumo career, Futahaguro transitioned to professional wrestling in 1989, where he competed for several promotions under his birth name, Koji Kitao. In 2003, Kitao made a surprise return to the sumo world, when he was invited to be a guest coach by the new Oyakata of his old heya. During this time, many of the details of his expulsion came to light. One such revelation was the possibility that the allegations of tsukebito abuse levelled against him were false. In 2013, Kitao was diagnosed with the kidney disease that would, unfortunately, take his life.

Tachiai offers their heartfelt condolences to Koji Kitao’s family.