No-kozuna Aki Confirmed With Posting Of Day 1 Torikumi

Much as Team Tachiai had worried, the 2020 Aki Basho will start day one with no Yokozuna present. With the publication of the torikumi (fight card) for days 1 and 2 in the top division, it was clear that both Yokozuna Kakuryu and Yokozuna Hakuho would not participate. In the case of Hakuho, he is a month into recovery from having arthroscopic surgery to both knees, and may in fact be questionable for November as well.

For Kakuryu, it seems to have been a case of injuries (unspecified thus far), along with a worry that he had not been able to train up to Yokozuna fighting level prior to the basho. Some of this he has recently attributed to the ban on degeiko, which the Yokozuna use to spar against the top talent and tune up prior to a basho.

This is the first time in 37 years that all active Yokozuna have been absent from the start of a tournament [EDIT: Akebono, the sole active Yokozuna, was absent from Aki 1994. The 37-year gap applies to more than one active Yokozuna: neither Chiyonofuji nor Kitanoumi started Natsu 1983. -lksumo], and it clearly signals we are deep in the transition period, and in my opinion, both Yokozuna are 12 months or less from hanging up their ropes. We know Hakuho wants to hold on and participate in the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed from this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kakuryu is looking to stay in Japan and become an elder in the sumo association, which the NSK seems to support. But he must gain Japanese citizenship first, and with that same COVID-19 outbreak continuing to disrupt civilian and government functions, there is no word on him advancing to that goal.

27 thoughts on “No-kozuna Aki Confirmed With Posting Of Day 1 Torikumi

  1. I doubt it, but I wonder if a petition among the Japanese would do it… If nothing else, maybe the NSK will let him remain kyujo until he’s naturalized? Seeing as they seem to want him to take over his old stable as much as anyone else does? These are unusual times and I hope the NSK remains conscious of that…

    • The NSK has no interest in his gaining the old heya one way or another. I would think they are actually not too enthusiastic about it as they have given his master’s kabu to Toyonoshima.

      • My understanding was that it isn’t clear whether Toyonoshima actually owns Izutsu outright or has it on loan until another opens up.

          • Toyonoshima is listed near the bottom of the Oyakata page only above those that have already reached 65. This suggests that he is borrowing Izutsu not owning it. compare with Tochiozan who owns his kabu but is above Bushuyama who is borrowing a kabu from Ikioi.

            As for why that one, there isn’t much else available. He could borrow from Kotoshogiku, but that isn’t sensible. The only other one is Furiwake. Izutsu at least comes from the right ichimon.

  2. I wonder why these Mongolian Yokozuna leave it to the last minute to apply for citizenship. Did Kakuryu only recently decide he was going to remain in the Sumo world after he retired?

    Just wondering, really, Maybe the application involves tedious paperwork and Yokozuna procrastinate like other busy people.

    • He submitted the application on January 2018. At least, that’s when they wrote this article, where they mention he applied to Mongolia to cancel his citizenship there on the previous autumn (2017!)

        • He couldn’t really, because once he gave up his Mongolian citizenship, he was screwed. But it took 2 years for Sokokurai, and Kakuryu also needs to naturalize his family. I hear that the process involves inquiries about family members in the land of origin (I guess, to make sure you are not subject to pressures like family members belonging to terrorist groups or whatnot). That could take time.

          • Thanks. That makes sense. If Kakuryu wants to get his Mongolian wife and kids naturalised it would drag things out. It was simpler for Hakuho as, of course, his wife is Japanese.

          • So how is this gonna end? Let’s say he doesn’t show up decently by the end of the year and is asked to retire. So what, he’s just gonna be stateless and in a difficult situation, or what?

            • The worst case scenario is that he has to retire before he gets that citizenship, thus cannot become an oyakata. The citizenship, however, is not dependent on him becoming oyakata. He has permanent residence status, to the best of my knowledge. So he will just have to find a different profession, and at some point the citizenship will arrive.

              • Ah, okay. Thanks! Yeah I red the article about former Kirishima saying retirement would be a question, should he fail to get results quickly. Where there already rumors about the council losing patience?

              • Do I look like someone who wants to see Kakuryu out of the sumo world? He is my favorite Yokozuna. I just wish the Justice Ministry would get a move on, because this situation is good for nobody – not Kakuryu, not the Sumo world, not the widow Fukuzono (assuming he can get the kabu back from Toyonoshima), and not the Yokozuna’s fan who have to see him going from bad to worse.

              • Am I wrong if I assume you’d prefer see him retire altogether rather than suffer more painful defeats? But of course that citizenship thing is an issue.

              • I wish he would get that citizenship, so that he could retire while he still has some remnant of dignity. I don’t want him to retire now, as he doesn’t have that citizenship. That citizenship rule is at fault.

            • I’m not sure. Mongolia’s national pride is very deep. Relinquish your citizenship and it’s seen as relinquishing your heritage. There was strong criticism of Hakuho when he did this.

  3. I wouldn’t worry too much about them being too hard on Kakuryu. One there is no reason to drive him away in retirement just in general. And two don’t forget that Kisenosato didn’t finish 8 basho in a row before the curtain came down in the 9th. At least Kak has a 12-3 on his record from this year.

  4. Ishiura is also out! That’s why there are no visitors from Juryo (2 yokozunas, abi and Ishi out)
    Taking into consideration his performance on Senshuraku in July, it looked like something was injured in his body…

  5. Are we sure that Kakuryu wants to stay on after he retires? I’ve seen a lot of speculation online, but I can’t find any sources that say this for sure. His family lives in Mongolia, which to me indicates that he might not be interested in staying on.

  6. Regardless of the speculation and rumours about the future of the yokozuna we have some fascinating matchups in the first two days.

    Day one kicks off with Ichinojo vs Hoshoryu which calls to mind David Cameron’s taunting of Tony Blair “He was the future once!” Kiribayama vs Tochinoshin should be enormous fun for the yotsu purists, especially as Kiribayama has been threatening to lift opponents out of the ring. Let’s see if he can pull it off against the master!

    Terunofuji gets Takakeisho and Mitakeumi in the first two days. If he comes out of that with 2-0 then the rest will tremble.


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