Hakuho Kyujo

Herouth called this. Hakuho is kyujo, according to the NHK. I must be blind because even after she wrote this, I went back and rewatched it and didn’t think anything was that bad. He clearly was not prime Hakuho but who would expect “prime” Hakuho at this point in his career, with 6 months off AND having only just recovered from Covid? (Yes, the only apparent symptom was the loss of taste but we’re still early understanding the longterm effects.) Onosho will benefit from the walkover win.

This leads me to seriously doubt that we will see either Yokozuna complete a full fortnight of action, whether we’re talking about May, July, September, November. All of these young-guns are eager for their shot and does anyone seriously think either of these men will be happy with a 10-5 record, out of contention during the final weekend?

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.

Ozeki Asanoyama Withdraws From November Tournament

In a surprising turn of events, Ozeki Asanoyama has withdrawn from the November tournament, where he was expected to compete for the Emperors Cup in the second week. Following his day 2 match with Terunofuji, it seems Asanoyama found that a nagging shoulder injury from day 1 was much worse. As a result, he has submitted a medical certificate stating “deltoid muscle contusion requires treatment for about 4 weeks”.

I must sadly admit that I had picked Asanoyama to take the yusho – once again, our predictions turn regrettable. If he cannot return and win 7 more matches in November, he will be kadoban for the January tournament. We hope Asanoyama can recover and return to competition soon.

Day 1 Torikumi Published, Yokozuna Hakuho Kyujo for November

A short time ago, the Japan Sumo Association published the match list (torikumi) for the top division days 1 and 2. Notably missing is Yokozuna Hakuho, who has chosen to be kyujo from the November tournament. While he was active in joint practice leading up to the tournament, he is just a few weeks past surgery. It is quite likely that following the practice sessions, he realized his body could not yet endure 15 days of full power sumo, and wisely chose to bide his time.

This makes the second “No-kazuna” tournament in a row, and once again the door is open for an enterprising Ozeki to open a bid to ascend to sumo’s highest rank. We can expect ultimatums from the YDC, threatening corrective action against both grand champions should they fail to mount the dohyo for 15 days in January. This lies in stark contrast to some recent Yokozuna. But I admit it seems clear to this sumo fan that the Hakuho and Kakuryu are nearly at the end of their fighting careers. We wish them both good health and a return to dominance in the new year.