Yokozuna Recovery News


Yokozuna-Corps

Kisenosato and Hakuho Progressing Towards Full Health

In an article from Japanese web site hochi.co.jp, some news of the recovery of two marquee rikishi who sat out the Aki basho, and their chances at returning to public matches.

Hakuho was interviewed at the Miyagino party after the last day of the Aki tournament, he stated “My rehabilitation is going very well, I feel confident about Kyushu”. He also state that he would like to join the fall jungyo PR tour from October 5th, provided his recovery continues as planned.

Kisenosato was more upbeat, and stated that he intends to be with the fall jungyo from the start. He stated “My body feels good, and I am moving well. I think I should be able to be part of the tour from the beginning”.

Last but certainly not least, the article also mentions that Yokozuna Kakuryu will participate in the jungyo tour, starting with day 1.

After the lack of top end rikishi at Aki and over the summer tour, fans will cheer the return of the Yokozuna during the November tournament.

Aoiyama Returns Day 8?


Aoiyama

From the day 8 Makuuchi torikumi, a bit of a surprise. It shows Harumafuji’s opponent as none other than the man-mountian Aoiyama! If Aoiyama is indeed about to enter Aki, one must wonder why. He will start with 7 losses, and nearly maki-koshi. So perhaps he wants to minimize his demotion? We hope the big fellow is genki enough to insert himself in this mad house of a basho.

Ura Confirmed To Have ACL Injury


Ura Gets The Chair

In a tweet from the Sumo Kyokai, it is confirmed that Ura has damage to his right knee Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

From a more medical web site

The knee is essentially a hinged joint that is held together by the medial collateral (MCL), lateral collateral (LCL), anterior cruciate (ACL) and posterior cruciate (PCL) ligaments. The ACL runs diagonally in the middle of the knee, preventing the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur, as well as providing rotational stability to the knee.

Full write up: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00297

Suffice to say, Ura will be out of sumo for a while, and his road back will likely be long and hard, similar to what Tochinoshin faced in 2014, where he dropped to Makushita and had to fight his way back.

Fan Favorite Ura Withdraws From Aki


Ura

As we suspected, the damage to Ura’s knee seems to be extensive, and he has withdrawn from the Aki basho. His injury was sustained during the Nagoya basho, and was severe enough that he was regulated to light duty during the summer jungyo.

Ura is a great asset to the sport, with his free-lance, un conventional approach to sumo really has helped boost sumo’s popularity. We fear he may now require orthopedic surgery, and his road to recovery will be long and painful.  We hope and pray he has the best possible outcome.

Ozeki Takayasu Withdraws From Aki


Takayasu

Sad but true, Takayasu’s injury appears to be significant enough that he has withdrawn from the Aki basho.  Perhaps he and Kisenosato can trade parts to make one really amazing yokozeki, Kisenoyasu.

All kidding aside, it’s possible that if Takayasu ruptured one of the large muscles of his right thigh, he could face a very long and ugly recovery.  We hope he can work with a good doctor, and get the care he needs.

Aki Genki Report Update


Takayasu

The Tachiai team has been somewhat apprehensive about the Aki basho this year, and we have made no secret about our concern. The confluence of an aging Makuuchi mainstay population, a series of injuries that never quite healed, and the relentless cadence of the current sumo calendar have combined to have a number of rikishi out from day one, or competing injured. There are / were a handful of Sekitori who should have probably sat out the basho, but eager to not be demoted out of the top division, took their chances.

As of the end of day 2, there are a several new developments (that will be apparent to anyone who watches summaries of footage from the basho). So we are going to break format a bit, and issue an update to our Genki Report.

Takayasu-Thigh

Rikishi: Takayasu
Genki: ✭
Notes: In his day 2 bout with Tamawashi, sumo’s newest Ozeki took a tough fall, and was clearly unable to walk afterwards. He was unable to walk back to the dressing room, and so they brought out their wheel chair and took him directly to the infirmary. As is typical with sumo, the real extent of his injury is not being reported, and is somewhere between a thigh muscle strain and a rupture of the thigh. He was able to walk under his own power some time later to a car waiting to take him back to Tagonoura stable. On his way out, he put on a brave face, but it’s certain his condition will be assessed in the morning.
Forecast: Kyujo day 3 or 4 due to injury to thigh muscle

Tamawashi

Rikishi: Tamawashi
Genki: ✭
Notes: In the same bout as Takayasu taking a fall and injuring his thigh, former Sekiwake Tamawashi twisted his ankle at the moment he forced Takayasu form the dohyo. Likewise he could barely walk following the match, but he did make it up the Hanamichi under his own power. But it was clear that he was having problems walking. In the dressing room, he did ask how Takayasu was.
Forecast: Kyujo day 3 or 4 due to sprained ankle, with a possible return later in the basho.

Ura

Rikishi: Ura
Genki: ✭-
Notes: Matches between Ura and Takakeisho are always grand battles of force vs maneuverability. We knew going into Aki that Ura’s knee was in delicate shape, and we suggested it was probably too damaged to support competition. During an attempt to execute a slippery move at the tawara, Ura’s knee collapsed. Immediately following the match, he was unable to walk and as with Takayasu had to be wheeled from the venue to the infirmary. As with Takayasu, he was later able to move about on his damaged leg, and displayed a brave face, and remarked that he would make every effort to appear day 3. The fact of the matter is that his damaged knee is now further damaged, and may now require surgery.
Forecast: Kyujo day 3 due to to damage to the ACL

Sumo’s Injury Issues Boil Over


Yokozuna-crew

A theme that Andy and I have been chasing for more than a year is the problem sumo has with headline athletes and their injuries. For a variety of reasons, most sumotori are never given enough time or resources to heal from the injuries they sustain, and their cumulative effect quickly degrades their performance, and in short order, their prospects for continued competition.

In general the health of the rikishi, especially the headliners, is not discussed and not publicized. These men are to be icons of the strength and power of the sport, and to show injury or weakness is not part of the facade. In reality, the health of many of these headline athletes has been in tenuous and degrading conditions for the last few years. With the advent of web-based media and near constant attention, the ability to dismiss a rikishi’s difficulties are almost impossible to mask.

Which brings us to the Aki basho. Three Yokozuna of four are laid up due to injuries they can’t seem to heal. The fourth (Harumafuji) is also in tough shape, but he is going to compete anyhow. I think at this point, the NSK knows they have a problem. A list of rikishi who are kyujo before the first day of competition

  • Yokozuna Hakuho
  • Yokozuna Kisenosato
  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Maegashira Aoiyama
  • Maegashira Sadanoumi

That means that both he yusho and jun-yusho winners from Nagoya are out. The majority of the faces on the promotional posters will not appear. The sport is having an injury crisis, and they can no longer hide it.

The following quotes are courtesy of Kintamayama, who (as always) is the man with the inside knowledge.

Sumo Association Chairman, Hakkaku“It’s really regrettable that we’ve come to this at this point.. We finally have 4 Yokozunae and the fans have sold out the venue in anticipation of seeing this wonderful sight.. I think this is extremely inexcusable towards all the fans. The banzuke is well balanced with the newcomers and the veterans, so I have a lot of expectations from the young guys..”

PR Director Shibatayama“It’s really inexcusable that three Yokozuna are missing during these days when the fans are filling the seats. Still, a Yokozuna is a human being. Showing up in bad shape will not do any good for anyone..”

To be clear, both men are laying blame not on their athletes, but on the Sumo Kyokai for putting on a Honbasho that will be missing a large number of the headline competitors. It’s bad enough for fans in Japan, but consider the growing number of sumo enthusiasts that fly to Japan during the basho to take in a few days at the matches. While we at Tachiai joke that we are an adjunct to the sumo world, I am quite sure that both the NSK media have noticed that sumo is flowering into a global sport.

What happens next? No one can tell, but I will take my best guess

  • Look for retirements, both within the NSK and within the upper ranks of sumo THIS YEAR. Much as it will pain them to clear the decks, they will need a team of headliners that they can count on to appear at every tournament. That’s what puts butts in seats, sells banners and drives ratings.
  • Look for Fall and Winter Jungyo to be curtailed or even eliminated. The current pace set by the Jungyo team has been punishing, and leaves the rikishi little to no time to maintain condition or seek medical attention for their injuries. This could be billed as a “Health and safety training period”, and given the Aki carnage, it would be accepted.
  • Modifications to the area around the dohyo – This is quite unlikely, but many of these rikishi are injured falling from the dohyo during a match. There may be some unobtrusive ways that maintain the aesthetics of the dohyo and decrease the injury potential of a ungraceful dismount.

As Aki progresses, the team that makes up Osumo will band together to make Aki possibly one of the great, anything can happen bashos of our time.