Update – Yokozuna Hakuho

After leading the yusho race for most of the Hatsu basho, Yokozuna hakuho withdrew on day 14 after suffering 3 straight losses. His kyujo application cited complications with his right knee, and many sumo fans and pundits chalked it up to him wanting to save his pride after losing 3 straight. As it turns out, reality was far more gruesome.

Hakuho skipped the Kyushu tournament to have surgery on this knee – the latests in a series of medical procedures that he has undergone to try and keep himself in fighting form for a few more tournaments. He looked fairly well during the pre-basho work up, and was enthusiastic to complete and probably win the finally Tokyo basho of the Heisei era. But on the 4th day of the tournament, he faced Hokutofuji, and won the match by some minor gymnastics on the tawara to stay in the ring while Hokutofuji dove for the gyoji. It turns out this re-injured his knee. The problem seemed minor at first, but grew worse day over day. As reported on Twitter (thanks to Herouth)

The decision to go kyujo came after he found he could no longer sleep at night, due to the pain and inflammation in his knee, and it was clear that he was going to require medical intervention, and possibly additional surgery.

This was bad enough, but following the basho, the YDC decided once again to put their foot in their collective mouths. In a post-meeting statement, (thanks to Kintamayama) outgoing chairman and Colonel Sanders Cosplayer Kitamura had this to say: They were doing proper sumo before they went kyujo and there was no sign of any serious injury. Some members noted that it was a bit strange. The Kyokai’s appointed doctor was the one who should be signing the certificates and not their individual doctors and some others said they would like to see a more objective certificate stating exactly how many days of rest they need..”

The overwhelming question remains – just how bad is it? Well, Hakuho had at least a hematoma in that right knee, and that is a good indication that something tore apart that was not completely healed. Most fans would be fine with him taking an extended break to get healthy, but it seems that the YDC is on the warpath now that Kisenosato has retired. Hakuho is truly the greatest rikishi most of us will ever see, and it would seem a shame to not give him the time and “cover” he needs to return to fighting form. After the 9 partial or complete kyujo granted to Kisenosato, this episode would seem tough to swallow. But as a westerner, I recognize my perspective is different, and I see these men as athletes, and not as cultural icons.

Tachiai hopes “The Boss” can get healthy and return to tossing everyone around like a hacky-sack soon.

Hakuho goes Kyujo

Shortly after the beginning of Day 14 at the Kokugikan, it has been announced that Yokozuna Hakuho will be absent as of this day. The official reason has not been published at this time, but Sponichi reports that the right knee, on which he had the operation, may be the culprit.

This will likely leave the Yokozuna’s score at 10-4-1 (except in the unlikely event he returns on senshuraku), with the Yusho to be determined, in all likelihood, between Tamawashi and Takakeisho.

Going kyujo may have further implications, as kyujo rikishi may not participate in public events, and the Hakuho Cup is due early next month.

Tachiai will keep you informed on the situation as it develops.

Chiyonokuni, Takanosho, and Kotoyuki go Kyujo

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As expected, Chiyonokuni has gone kyujo following the knee injury he sustained during his Day 10 match with Ikioi.  He has been prescribed two weeks rest and treatment for left knee ligament damage. This is a very disappointing turn of events, as Chiyonokuni was having his best tournament since his fantastic 12-3 performance last May. However, with 8 wins Chiyonokuni has secured his position for the Haru Basho and won’t have to worry about how far he’ll drop down the rankings. Chiyonokuni’s Day 11 opponent Abi will pick up a fusen win.

[Update] Down in Juryo, Takanosho has bowed out of the Hatsu Basho for a second time due to a nagging knee injury he sustained on Day 2. He has submitted a medical form to the NSK for one month of treatment due to a right anterior cruciate ligament injury.

[Update] Completing the trio of Day 10 victims is Kotoyuki, who has also gone kyujo. According to his medical form, Kotoyuki is suffering from a right femor contusion and right leg joint lateral ligament damage. His Day 11 opponent Daieisho will get a much-needed walkover win.

We at Tachiai hope Chiyonokuni, Takanosho, and Kotoyuki make full recoveries.

Mitakeumi Kyujo For Day 7

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The fears have become a reality: Mitakeumi has gone Kyujo as of Day 7 after suffering an injury to the quadriceps of his left knee during his Day 6 match with Myogiryu. Unable to walk, Mitakeumi required the giant wheelchair to get down the hanamichi before going directly to the hospital from the Kokugikan. This is a very unfortunate development, as Mitakeumi was looking extremely genki this January, and was undefeated going into his Friday match. In the initial statements concerning the injury, the Komusubi appeared hopeful that he was only dealing with muscle fatigue and would be able to compete on Day 7 (though it’s important to note that he was on crutches by this time). However, it seems Mitakeumi and his Oyakata will not follow in a certain former Yokozuna’s footsteps and try to gambarize though this injury. At least, for the time being that is. Considering the nature of quadriceps injuries, it is hard to speculate how long the healing process will take. Mitakeumi could be out for days or even weeks, but and we may see the Komusubi return in the coming days if the injury isn’t too severe.

His Day 7 opponent, Hokutofuji, will pick up a consecutive fusen win.

The team at Tachiai wish Mitakeumi well during his recovery, and look forward to the return of the tadpole king!