Yokozuna At Haru – One In, One Out

With less than 2 days to go before the start of the Haru basho, we now know that Yokozuna Hakuho will compete in Haru, and that Yokozuna Kakuryu, will not. According to reports, Kakuryu, who had shown well at the Kyokai joint practice, injured his left thigh in practice a few days ago. He is currently unable to do shiko, and sadly will be unable to compete for March.

The Yokozuna were given an ultimatum last year – compete or retire. Both sat out January, and both were expected to compete in March. There is, of course, talk that Kakuryu will be directed to retire. While this would be a shame, he now has Japanese citizenship, and will likely become a sumo elder following his retirement. While there is no official word if Kakuryu holds a kabu, it is supsected that he holds the Izutsu kabu, and will take it up once he is intai. While we hope the YDC and the sumo association will allow him to fight it out, at least one last time, I personally do not hold much hope for that outcome.

Meanwhile, I am eager to see Hakuho return to the dohyo. If he competes for all 15 days, and is healthy, he has to be the likely favorite to take home the yusho. While it is likely Hakuho will stave off a directive to retire, it has been announced that he will acquire the Magaki kabu, and will become a sumo elder when that day comes.

9 thoughts on “Yokozuna At Haru – One In, One Out

  1. I think given the current situation Kakuryu should be given at least until May to compete. If he can’t in May it’ll have been over 14 months since his last full tournament. We’re “only” at a year right now so we could consider March his final grace period due to the relative recent nature of this injury. But if he can’t by May then it’s clear his body is not capable of competing anymore.

    • Including the upcoming absence, Kakuryu has completed just five of his last 16 tournaments, and in only two of them (three if we’re generous) he managed to fulfill the yokozuna role by being involved in the yusho race. Sure it’s true that he was 12-3 exactly a year ago, but it’s not like getting through one basho successfully is going to reset everybody’s attitudes back to even: The overwhelming image is of a yokozuna who has been largely AWOL for three years now, with no sign of being able to overcome his chronic back issues to get back to consistent (rather than just occasional one-off) competitiveness again.

      Picking up another injury severe enough to rule him out of a tournament is the last thing he needed now, of course, and while it would suck for him if a mere muscle injury was to end up as the death knell on his career, them’s the breaks when you’ve been getting by on sub-par physical shape for so long already. Takanohana got retired by the effects of a fluky shoulder injury, which also had nothing to do with the knee issues that had sidelined him for most of the 18 months prior.

  2. Meh. You don’t just get to sit out on perpetual new injuries here and there and collect that Yokozuna salary forever. Part of the sport is the ability to compete. Yokozuna privilege should be a thing, but this is getting silly. There’s always some new injury just before the tournament. If Kakuryu were an Ozeki he’d probably be at the bottom of the 4th division by now with all of his absences.

  3. I have nothing against Kakuryu at all, but as a fan that started watching seriously in January of last year I also have basically no romantic attachment to his prime (which was undoubtedly very impressive) either. In that whole time I’ve seen him complete a grand total of 1 tournament. I’m not saying he absolutely should go, but if not now, why? What’s the difference if it drags on one more tournament? He’s one of the oldest Yokozuna of all-time and even training is problematic for him now. At this point it’s become a really unfortunate distraction, and we all know how important public image is to this specific rank. I would love to see him get his one last hurrah, but at this point it kind of feels like you are risking having that flip around into him coming out, going 1-3, and retiring, which doesn’t do a ton for anyone either.

    I was eager to see a last chapter, but this is dragging on now.

  4. Meanwhile, I am eager to see Hakuho retire from the dohyo. Hakuho’s rise and dominance has been fantastic for sumo. His retirement will be just as fantastic for sumo.


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