Kyushu Storyline #8 – Ichinojo


Building A Better Rikishi?

Many sumo fans will recall that Mongolian rikishi Ichinojo sat out the Aki basho with injuries. As it turns out his back pain was caused by a herniated disk, and at one point his pain was so grave that he could not stand straight nor walk properly. He was hospitalized for 25 days beginning in August for treatment, during which he lost an impressive amount of weight, in part due to encouragement from the attending physician.

Advised the reducing his mass would reduce the stress on his joints and back, Ichinojo, who was probably the heaviest man in sumo, is down to 185kg (still over 400 pounds for us Americans). His approach was to cut back radically on carbohydrates – a recipe that is proven to give results.

He appears to be part of a growing trend in sumo: to lighten up. In truth many of the sumotori had gotten so large their skeleton and organs could not really support their flesh. In part, the men of sumo are encouraged to grow large to gain dominance on the dohyo, but it seems to limit many wrestlers as they struggle to adjust their sumo to their increasing bulk. A great example of that is Ura, who continues to grow larger, possibly to his detriment.

Goeido’s Nearly Impossible Challenge


Can He Repeat His Perfect Record and Become Yokozuna?

The Aki basho was all Goeido, his sumo was superb, and not even the Yokozuna could stop him from achieving a perforce score, the much coveted Zensho Yusho. Harumafuji and Hakuho have achieved a few of these in the last decade, but for an Ozeki to score a perfect record in the Hakuho era is rare.

As a result, the Yokozuna Deliberation Council declared that should Goeido repeat his performance during the upcoming Kyushu basho, he would be promoted to Yokozuna. For more than a decade, Japan has been waiting for a Japanese rikishi to join the elite rank, and break the Mongolian monopoly on the Yokozuna rope.

During the summer break between Nagoya and Aki, it was clear that Goeido trained like a man possessed. He went into the fall tournament in Tokyo with the ignominy of being “Kadoban-Ozeki”. A loosing record in Tokyo would have demoted him to the lower ranks. The results of his intense training and re-dedication to his sumo was clear. Not only was he physically more powerful, his attitude was remarkably changed, and each bout saw him attack with total commitment to winning. In reviewing his matches, it’s nearly all offense;  offense that left no room for him to defend. His commitment to his skill and ability to prevail was total.

As a result, he became a hero. He has been on countless television shows, he has been a star attraction at the fall Jungo tour stops, and pretty much every distraction you can throw at a sumotori has been levied upon him.

The natural question comes about – how much has this degraded his sumo?

With just under 2 weeks to go before Kyushu starts, Tachiai suspects Goeido is training like a man possessed, knowing full well that this time, the final exam is Hakuho.

Sumo fans everywhere are wishing Goeido a good basho.


Aki Basho Highlights

On 10/6, the Sumo Kyokai posted highlights from the Aki Basho. I enjoyed watching many of the bouts, especially Takayasu’s win over Harumafuji. Grappling matches can be exciting but these arms-length brawls are fun to watch.

Currently, our favorite rikishi are in the midst of a break in their Fall Jungyo tour. Bruce has written about these tours before. You can see from the videos that it’s more light-hearted PR for the sport. I hope they visit the States sometime. I really want to see one because they seem like a lot of fun, especially for the kids. The tour starts up again on Friday in Aichi-ken. A full schedule for the Jungyo is available on the website.

Yokozuna Hakuho Recovery Progressing


Spotted at Narita, En-Route To Mongolia

Earlier, 69th Yokozuna Hakuho was spotted at Tokyo’s Narita airport. In an article in Nikkan Sports, the boss was looking thinner, in good spirits and looking forward to his time in Mongolia.

It appears that during Aki, he intentionally dropped weight (about 10kg) via fasting (at least 3 days), as part of his planned recovery process. The article also seems to confirm that the left knee injury involves the MCL, which is an injury that may impact his performance long term.

His remarks included is reaction to watching the Aki basho, and eager anticipation of returning to the dohyo in November.

Tachiai notes that The Boss looks to be in good spirits, and in good form.  We are hoping his health supports his return to sumo soon.

As with all of my Kanji translated articles, I apologize if I am mostly or completely wrong!