Yokozuna Hakuho Kyujo

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The Nihon Sumo Kyokai has reported that Yokozuna Hakuho has pulled out of the Hatsu Basho. This withdrawal comes on the heels of consecutive losses to Endo and Myogiryu. While the reasoning for Hakuho going kyujo is unknown at this time, the Yokozuna has had a recent history of nagging injuries to his toes and arm which may have been aggravated during his early losses to the aforementioned Maegashira Rikishi. Tachiai will continue to update this story as news develops.

As a result of Hakuho going Kyujo, his Day 4 opponent Hokutofuji will receive a fusensho win.

Update: According to Miyagino Oyakata, the reason for Hakuho’s withdrawal is cellulitis in his right heel. Miyagino stated that Hakuho suffered damage to his heel prior to the banzuke announcement, which subsequently became infected, causing a fever last night. This cellulitis infection is coupled with an injury to his hip/lower back area that he sustained during his match with Endo on Day 2.


33 thoughts on “Yokozuna Hakuho Kyujo

  1. uh oh, now we wait for Kakuryu….. hopefully this first basho of 2020 will not be a ‘Nokozuna’…

  2. Hakuho probably realized in theory, in abstract, that he’s in the 11th hour of his career, but I think it’s a lot more concrete now =-\

  3. Too much expected to be a surprise. Its a shame though and I wonder to what extent pride is bigger than the injury. As a result, his reputation is much lower in my eyes today…

  4. This is expected. He didn’t look weak or hurt, he was simply soundly defeated by Endo in a rematch of a match that was causing him enough stress already (with everyone talking about the forearm smash)

    the fact that he was baited by Endo to do it again (and he did) only this time Endo was ready and slammed him down in a type of defeat we rarely see him receive.

    He was mentally broken by Endo’s comeback, Hakuho isn’t suddenly weak, he just won last basho 14-1 and the shodai loss was a fluke.

    I am also disappointed at him leaving the tournament and I expect kakuryu to do the same if he loses again.

    If Endo wins this whole thing it will be legendary

  5. Although it’s always a disappointment when Hakuho withdraws, it was already apparent that he wasn’t going to be a factor in this basho. So better to do it quickly and not distract from the excellent sumo we have been witnessing from the up-and-comers.

    • I had hopes that not being a factor would not necessarily mean, not showing up at all. Forgive the knot of nots.

      • He’s now in a pattern of alternating winning or coming second with sitting out or withdrawing early. In other words, he’s a half-time yokozuna. It is what it is, the rules permit it, and I don’t think it should excite people’s emotions, one way or the other. It’s like the long-term employee who moves to a 3-day week on the path to retirement.

  6. Yep, he’s down several notches in my eyes with this withdrawal. Fans pay in advance, expecting to see the greatest Yokozuna…and he drops out because he loses. I’m really disappointed.

  7. amongst the mortals now
    from demigod to sharkbait in a single bout, a la mr endo

    nothing takes away from what hakuho has done or who he is
    still a young man who has worked with the weight of the world on his shoulders over a decade and the g o a t

    and like anyone still so young, still has a lot to learn
    i think he’s done a great job on and off dohyo throughout, pressured ongoingly more than any japanese yokozuna

    his ultimate triumph, the olympics, may now be at risk and he has stepped back to pull himself together
    he’s given all that he’s got already; can we cut the man a little slack?

  8. There’s nothing unusual or discreditable about an early withdrawal by a Yokozuna. It’s the 6th such basho for Hakuho since 2015; he’s also collected 8 yusho in that span. We’ve seen it from Kakuryu (and probably will again this tournament), Kisenosato, Harumafuji, and others before them. Sure, it’s better when the grand champions can fight all 15 days, but age and injuries take their toll, without necessarily signaling an imminent end of a career.

    • The fans are already saying he was “Scared” (obieru) of Hokutofuji. There’s what’s in the record books, and then there is what is in the hearts of the sumo public in Japan. Right now I think the pressure on Hakuho goes up. I feel for the guy, he is in fact the greatest, possibly forever. It’s tough to fade out, it really really is.

        • he’s in illustrious company. there’s so much more pressure on a Yokozuna and we tend to forget they’re only human, and not the demi-gods they appear to be. their mental toughness has to exceed that of mere mortals, we just need to show them the love when they’re put in this position – for them it’s a no-win situation whatever way it’s played. sending big virtual hug your way Boss

        • It’s not just a question of numbers.

          For example, did the Yokozuna in fact sustain an on-dohyo injury prior to going kyujo? This is considered an “honorable” tochu-kyujo, as opposed to just losing, and then remembering you had something from before the basho.

          This is why it was important for Hakuho to find something that happened to him in the bout vs. Endo. That heel cellulitis won’t do.

          Also: the YDC set a standard during the Kisenosato time, which didn’t exist before. They said that a Yokozuna should get himself “banzen” (fully healed) before he returns and not quit mid-basho due to an prior condition. So many of those historical Yokozuna can shrug their shoulders and say this was not the standard in their time.

          Finally, there has been heavy criticism of those kyujo by the recent Yokozuna. People noticed it, and commented on it. It reflects on the Hinkaku question. Recently the YDC went as far as doubting one of Hakuho’s medical certificates and asked the NSK to have him checked by their own doctor (the NSK ignored the request).

      • I’ll just leave this here:
        Hakuho 2017.03 Y1e 2-3-10 2017.05 Y2w 15-0 Y
        Hakuho 2018.07 Y1w 3-1-11 2018.09 Y1w 15-0 Y

        • I’ll just leave this here:

          Prior to Hatsu 2020:

          Hakuho 20 – Myogiryu 1. Myogiryu’s only win was in 2013.
          Hakuho 11 – Endo 1. Endo’s only win was in 2016.

      • Scared, I sincerely doubt it. Frustrated with the two loses, sure! I guess its kind off a perfect storm. Its not dignifying for a yokozuna that his preferred opening technique comes under scrutiny, legal or not many considers the slaps/elbows “ugly” and not worthy for a dai-yokozuna. In addition i heard grumbles how he reacted after the loss to Endo, it wasn’t really a bow but more an FU grimace :) I strongly believe that he would had finished 12-3 or 11- 4 if he stays one. Yes he lost to Endo but it was rather competitive too the end. Now the withdraw has some footnotes too it.
        Hope he takes some time off to rest up and get a mental break. And i really hope when he goes out will go with dignity not marred with controversies/pseudo-controversies.

  9. Neither a surprise nor particularly disappointing. I always enjoy the basho more when Hakuho isn’t cruising to the yusho. True, if he’d stuck around he wouldn’t have cruised to anything this time, but my feeling remains the same. I love a tournament where the winner is likely to be someone new or perhaps with one title to his name, and that’s what we’re likely to get this time. Only Kakuryu and Mitakeumi have multiple yusho among the active rikishi. The former is probably out of the hunt and the latter is still enough of a newb that I wouldn’t mind seeing him win again (though I don’t expect him to this time).

  10. anyone else his announcement for retirement was a jest? I have no doubts he can still win a Basho, However he does not want to keep having times like this. He knows his time is limited now, and he wants out while still reasonably Healthy.

  11. As lksumo says it’s quite usual for Yokozuna to pull out if they suffer multiple early losses. We don’t often see it from Hakuho, because he doesn’t need to often.

    Hakuho’s limit has always been 2 early losses and then pull out. See lksumo’s comment for details. Kakuryu’s has often been higher than that (in recent times 3 losses).

  12. I’m always surprised when an elite professional athlete falls victim to cellulitis as it’s preventable. If you pick up a cut get it cleaned promptly and thoroughly, apply antiseptic cream and cover with a plaster. Job done. I am the owner of a “bitey” cat and learned this lesson the hard way.

  13. Sad to see Hakuho out, though it was apparent this basho and the last that his feet were troubling him. He’s a great champion, he has more than earned the right to go kyujo when his injuries justify it

  14. A couple observations.

    1) Blink. Yes, I did wonder yesterday which yokozuna would pull out. It’s not really surprising, particularly after seeing how he was smoked by Myogiru. That’s not healthy Hakuho.

    2).Yes, it’s disappointing when yokozuna pull out.

    3).One of my relatives ended up in the hospital for weeks with cellulitis. Granted, he was not a young, healthy person, but he was hospitalized with this ailment. He had to be medically evacuated from his vacation.

    I confess I never heard of cellulitis until my relly ended up in the hospital, so here is some information.


    Excerpt from the article (I capitalized the life threatening bit):


    Cellulitis (sel-u-LIE-tis) is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. The affected skin appears swollen and red and is typically painful and warm to the touch.

    Cellulitis usually affects the skin on the lower legs, but it can occur in the face, arms and other areas. It occurs when a crack or break in your skin allows bacteria to enter.

    Left untreated, the infection can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream and RAPIDLY BECOME LIFE-THREATENING (ed. caps are mine!) . It isn’t usually spread from person to person.

    When to see a doctor

    It’s important to identify and treat cellulitis early because the condition can spread rapidly throughout your body.

    Seek emergency care if:

    You have a red, swollen, tender rash or a rash that’s changing rapidly
    You have a fever
    See your doctor, preferably that day, if:

    You have a rash that’s red, swollen, tender and warm — and it’s expanding — but without fever

    Recurrent episodes of cellulitis may damage the lymphatic drainage system and cause chronic swelling of the affected limb.

    Rarely, the infection can spread to the deep layer of tissue called the fascial lining. Necrotizing fasciitis is an example of a deep-layer infection. IT’S AN EXTREME EMERGENCY.

    The article has more interesting facts, including obesity as a risk factor for cellulitis.

    So if he has a medical certificate for cellulitis, he is quite right getting medical attention!

    And for those saying it was easily preventable. Sumos hang out in locker rooms full of hot sweaty men and humid from Japanese style baths. It’s a wonder it doesn’t happen more often.

    Let’s wish Hakuho a speedy, complete recovery!


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