Heya Power Rankings: Kyushu 17-Hatsu 18

We’re back with the Heya Power Rankings. A lot has happened since the last time we released a set of these rankings, and a lot of those things have influenced the direction of how these rankings will trend, not only for this edition, but also for probably the next several editions. Let’s get into it:

chart-10

Usually with these rankings we see rises and falls attributable to basic stuff like winning a yusho one tournament or getting a special prize versus, well, not doing that in the next tournament. But when you have a heya that’s usually at the top which not only usually is in the yusho race or at least has a lot of high ranking rikishi grabbing kachi-koshi, and then their rikishi do not get kachi-koshi and a couple of them go kyujo, that does alter the landscape a bit.

So now let’s look at this in our usual “Billboard” style Top 20 chart form (ties broken by previous ranking with the most recently better heya ranked higher):

  1. (+5) Miyagino. 101 points (+61)
  2. (+13) Hakkaku. 95 points (+75)
  3. (-2) Isegahama. 83 points (-64)
  4. (+-) Tagonoura. 65 points (+10)
  5. (+2) Takanohana. 54 points (+6)
  6. (-4) Sakaigawa. 41 points (-26)
  7. (-4) Kokonoe. 40 points (-16)
  8. (+11) Kataonami. 40 points (+25)
  9. (-1) Oitekaze. 38 points (+2)
  10. (+-) Izutsu. 30 points (even)
  11. (-6) Oguruma. 28 points (-20)
  12. (+1) Sadogatake. 27 points (+3)
  13. (-2) Dewanoumi. 25 points (even)
  14. (-5) Kasugano. 23 points (-7)
  15. (-3) Onomatsu. 20 points (-5)
  16. (+2) Tomozuna. 20 points (+3)
  17. (**) Arashio. 20 points (+18)
  18. (+2) Tokitsukaze. 18 points (+3)
  19. (**) Isenoumi. 18 points (+5)
  20. (**) Minato / Minezaki. 15 points. (both +2)

Movers

3 or 4 stables got some great results last time out. Miyagino-beya has been here before and that’s because Hakuho wins a lot of championships. Ishiura comes back to makuuchi at Hatsu and they have another couple rikishi just outside the top two divisions, so there’s the possibility things could get better here before they get worse.

The former Hokutoumi jumps over his rival Yokozuna, the former Asahifuji’s heya in the charts as the now-Hakkaku climbs above Isegahama. Hakkaku is the greatest gainer this time out – usually this happens because one rikishi has had a crazy-good tournament. However, both Okinoumi and Hokutofuji grabbed the jun-yusho and special prizes and that’s a recipe for a lot of success on this chart. While the former has been inconsistent owing to injuries in the past year, one wouldn’t bet against a repeat from the latter if he shows up genki to the Kokugikan next week.

Kataonami and Arashio are 2 “feast or famine” stables reliant on the performances of just one rikishi – Tamawashi and Sokokurai respectively. So when one of those guys has a monster showing, their heya is likely to bound up the chart and fall down quickly when they don’t. Fortunately for Arashio, there are four very promising rikishi knocking on the door of the sekitori ranks (3 of whom we’ll talk more about later this week). That’s more rikishi than exist in total in Kataonami-beya, so it’s likely that Tamawashi will continue carrying the load for the foreseeable future.

 

Losers

Three stables again had absolutely miserable tournaments:

There’s no escaping the unfortunate, awful storm that beset Isegahama-beya. A pair of kyujo and a number of disappointing records meant that a heavy tumble (in terms of points) was always likely, and had it not been for Aminishiki’s inspiring performance, it could have been worse. And it likely will get much worse before it gets better, as the stable loses two sekitori (including one permanent Yokozuna retirement) for Hatsu, their former Ozeki has slipped to the middle of Maegashira, and we probably can’t count on another special prize from Uncle Sumo even though we’d clearly all love it.

Kokonoe, on the other hand, are due a bit of a rebound. Of their six sekitori, only J9 Chiyonoo posted the slenderest of winning records at 8-7. Their four top division rikishi will all be fairly comfortably placed in the middle of the Maegashira pack this time out, so we’d expect at least a couple of them to improve their showing.

Kise-beya falls off the charts entirely owing to a similarly poor tournament. Ura’s injury meant they only scored points from the Juryo ranks, and despite a number of rikishi hanging around the top end of Makushita, it’s likely going to be a couple of tournaments before they return to the charts. A final word for Sakaigawa-beya, whose decline is simply owed to Goeido putting up a yusho challenge in September and not November – they should continue to hang around the top end of the rankings.

Ichimon

chart-11

Here’s a three tournament progression of the ichimon rankings, above. These are really going to need many tournaments for us to see any kind of true trends owing to the volatility of the charts and the amount of rikishi involved in the listings. However, a new wave of debutants in the top divisions – as established wrestlers decline due to age or retire – will change the shape of this chart as well.

Given the recent political issues involving Takanohana, it will be interesting to see if his stable as well as the group of stables bearing his name will continue their progression. Not only has the rise of Takakeisho given him a top 5 heya by our rankings, but in the twins Takagenji and Takayoshitoshi, he has two more rikishi tipped to entrench themselves in the professional ranks. Additionally, the ichimon features another budding star in Onosho, and the respective recent and upcoming Juryo debutants Takanosho and Akua. Continued success from those associated with Takanohana would be something to note as we continue to watch and speculate on his future ambitions at the center of the sport.

Ones to Watch: Kyushu 17 Wrap-up

Above: Enho rounds off his tournament by escorting Akinohana off the dohyo.
Video c/o Asashosakari

Remember way back in September and October when we were shaking our heads in disbelief at “Wacky” Aki? How positively calm those days seem now. We took a week or so to collect ourselves following the conclusion of the unprecedented events of the Kyushu basho, but now it’s time to wrap-up our “Ones to Watch” series for 2017. Thanks to everyone who sent through kind words and their suggestions of future rikishi to follow – I think we’ll have a good list in store for Hatsu.

Results

So, how did our picks do on the whole?

Kachi-koshi: 17
Make-koshi: 3
Yusho: 🏆🏆
Hattorizakura-watch: ⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️

Makushita

Ms4 Mitoryu (Nishikido) – Mitoryu sealed his promotion to Juryo with a fine 6-1 record, justifying our selection as top pick in the Makushita ranks this time out. He’ll be ineligible for the list next time, but the much-vaunted rikishi will continue to be one to watch as he continues his progression and hopefully consolidates his place among the sekitori.

Ms7 Hokaho (Miyagino) – I was somewhat hopeful that Hokaho could continue his run, having scored winning records in every other basho in 2017. However the run stops here as he slumped to a 3-4 make-koshi courtesy of a final match loss against…

Ms11 Takayoshitoshi (Takanohana) – … who sealed his kachi-koshi in the same match. Takagenji’s twin will no doubt be challenged to follow his brother’s (who has managed to hold on to his place in Juryo) progress as he’ll see himself inside the top 10 Makushita ranks for Hatsu. The question is whether he can put together the run of consistency that could see him in promotion contention by mid-2018 – his mental makeup and application have been debated somewhat within the comments section of this site.

Ms12 Wakatakakage (Arashio) vs Ms22 Murata (Takasago) – Despite entering the tournament at a similar pedigree (just the odd loss separating them over their careers), the strength of schedule really told here. Wakatakakage was simply out-shoved against a selection of seasoned vets at this level en route to a 3-4 make-koshi, including the eventual yusho winner Tochihiryu. Murata on the other hand was able to bulldoze his way through the middle of the pack to a very strong 6-1 record that will see him promoted above his contemporary next time out and almost certainly into the top 10 Makushita ranks.

Ms14 Jokoryu (Kise) vs Ms14 Enho (Miyagino) – I felt there was a lot of spice in the Makushita 14 pairing as Jokoryu was the very last rikishi before Enho to achieve 3 consecutive 7-0 records to begin his career. With different goals at stake – Jokoryu’s late career fightback to the pro ranks, Enho’s effort to continue a blistering start to his career – both men valiantly achieved 5-2 records which will see them also placed in the Makushita top 10 in January.

It’s worth noting that Enho’s energy is absolutely remarkable, and currently his speed is the main trait that helps him overcome the massive size gaps that exist between him and most competitors. Additionally, he does a good job of keeping his opponents away from the mawashi, as once he’s locked up he’s fairly easy for larger, stronger rikishi to move around (as somewhat evidenced by his loss to the enormous Akiseyama, albeit a match where his arms rather than his belt were locked up). While he displays at times a composure beyond his years in the manner in which he dispatches much larger opponents, he also has suffered a few wild crashes off the dohyo, so we will hope that he stays healthy as he continues his development.

Ms26 Ichiyamamoto (Nishonoseki) – I got this one a bit wrong, as I picked Ichiyamamoto as a bit of a sleeper yusho pick owing to the weak strength of schedule and his absolute tear up the banzuke to this point. He will continue his progression after posting a 4-3 kachi-koshi but we will want to see more next time. He displayed some good poise, despite being smaller than many of his opponents.

Ms50 Ryuko (Onoe) – A strong performance in his Makushita debut, putting up a 5-2 kachi-koshi, the odd loss coming to…

Ms52 Nishikifuji (Isegahama) – … whose victory over Ryuko (in a match that probably could have gone either way, Nishikifuji slapping down Ryuko on the verge of being pushed out at the edge) sealed a 6-1 tournament in which both men coughed up the other losses to the promising Mongolian Kiribayama. Both Ryuko and Nishikifuji are set for strong promotions upward in January and we will continue to monitor their progress. It’s worth noting that Nishikifuji’s performance at Kyushu was a rare bright spot for the otherwise beleaguered Isegahama stable.

Sandanme

Sd13 Fukuyama (Fujishima) vs Sd16 Tanabe (Kise) – I’ve rated Tanabe as the better of these two for a while, having only lost to Enho in his career entering the basho (in fairness to Fukuyama, he’d only lost to Tanabe, but he wasn’t running into Enho). This time, Enho was in another division and Tanabe repaid this faith with a solid 5-2 record that bested Fukuyama’s narrow 4 win kachi-koshi. Tanabe’s showing should be good enough to earn him a promotion, while Fukuyama will likely need to take another crack from the top of Sandanme next time out. As an aside, this is the part of the banzuke where an awful lot of rikishi’s successes are dependent about how they do against the squad from Sadogatake-beya. Both of these guys ended up facing 3 Koto-men – as did Tomokaze and Wakaichiro.

Sd53 Tomokaze (Oguruma) – Tomokaze comes up one loss short of “doing an Enho” from his first three tournaments – he dropped one match in Aki, but stormed back with a zensho (via playoff) here that solidified his credentials as a bona fide prospect. His relatively low ranking in the Sandanme division means he should end up somewhere around the magical Makushita 30 mark at which another unprecedented zensho might clinch another promotion, but it is likely based on past precedent that he’ll fall just short of this mark.

Sd84 Kotokumazoe (Sadogatake) – Talking of the myriad prospects of Sadogatake-beya, Kotokumazoe reinforces his credentials after his lengthy absence from the banzuke with a third straight solid tournament. His 5 win record should fire him up another 30-35 positions next time out.

Sd85 Wakaichiro (Musashigawa) – There’s no getting around that it was a disappointing debut at Sandanme level for the Texan, who has vowed to do better next time out. While his 1 win performance in the final basho of the year was not what he or his fans were hoping for, we are excited to see him continue his progression and hopefully solidify his credentials upon his return to Jonidan where he has already shown solid skill in several previous tournaments this year.

Jonidan

Jd15 Shoji (Musashigawa) – It’s a second straight yusho for Wakaichiro’s stablemate, who will swap places with the Tachiai-favorite in January as he earns an automatic promotion that will see him placed somewhere between Sd20-30. As we noted in our lower division yusho wrap-up, Shoji sealed the deal with a final match win over Torakio with whom he is developing a nice little rivalry.

Jd49 Torakio (Naruto) vs Jd49 Sumidagawa (Naruto) – Torakio may yet get another chance to avenge his second straight yusho race defeat to Shoji at Hatsu, as his 6 win record will more than likely be enough to get him up to Sandanme (the last time it wasn’t from his level was 1975). So while they’ll likely work from opposite ends of the division, one wouldn’t bet against the big and strong Bulgarian getting matched up with Shoji again should both men dominate in their step up.

For Sumidagawa, Torakio’s massive stablemate, the goal at Hatsu will be consolidation and further progression after he netted a 4-3 kachi-koshi which some Tachiai commenters mentioned might be the height of his ambition with respect to his more esteemed aforementioned colleague.

Jonokuchi

Jk20 Amatsu (Onomatsu) – 27 year old Amatsu turned in a fine performance on his comeback to the dohyo after nearly 3 years away. He only suffered one blemish, with a 6 win record that will see him comfortably promoted in his effort to make it back to the Makushita ranks. As I remarked last time, it was disappointing not to see him matched up with the yusho winner Kotoseigo given they were only placed 2 spots apart on the banzuke.

Jk20 Hayashi (Fujishima) – Speaking of solid performances, top debutant “Mike” Hayashi turned in a 6-1 record, his sole loss coming to the yusho winner Kotoseigo. He will be promoted at Hatsu and we will continue to monitor his progress. He will likely be replaced as our “top debutant to watch” at Hatsu by much vaunted Mongolian Yoshoyama of Tokitsukaze-beya.

Finally, while we don’t technically list Hattorizakura of Shikihide-beya as “one to watch,” we certainly will continue to look for his results, and unfortunately he put up his ninth straight 0-7 tournament at Kyushu. This tournament saw him do what I guess we can call a reverse Futabayama, as he has passed the legendary Yokozuna’s run of 63 and run his loss streak now to 67 consecutive losses (his second loss this time out, against the debutant Takita, was particularly heartbreaking as it looked like a sure win until he got Aminishiki’d at the edge). Here’s an interesting stat if you’re a Hattorizakura fan: only 16 other rikishi have managed to stay on the banzuke while not winning for seven consecutive tournaments (without going banzuke-gai). All of the other 16 were kyujo at some point, though a few did put up legitimate winless tournaments over that period. The great Yokozuna Takanohana II is a member of that list in the injury-addled latter stages of his career, so I guess Hattorizakura can at least say they have that in common!

Hatsu Banzuke Crystal Ball

kyushu-2017-banzuke

I embark on this exercise with more trepidation than usual. As noted in my previous post, there is a convergence of factors that makes this banzuke the least predictable since I started making these forecasts. Since then, we’ve also had Harumafuji’s retirement thrown into the mix. Usually, prediction errors just switch the positions of two or three rikishi, without affecting the rest of the banzuke. This time around, there is a lot of potential for errors that have cascading effects on much of the banzuke: for instance, incorrectly predicting whether Hokutofuji is given an extra Komusubi slot. That said, the forecast should still give a good idea of where everyone will end up within a rank or two. How it will fair in Guess The Banzuke is another matter—the game may see a rather unusual distribution of scores.

Upper San’yaku

Y1 Hakuho Kisenosato
Y2 Kakuryu
O1 Goeido Takayasu

This is the only straightforward part of the banzuke. The Kyushu yusho winner Hakuho once again takes over his customary top spot. By virtue of his partial participation and four wins, Kisenosato moves up to Y1w. Kakuryu occupies what would have been Harumafuji’s slot. Both Kisenosato and Kakuryu are under orders to go the full 15 days in the next tournament they enter, and perform at Yokozuna levels, or retire. Kakuryu is under greater pressure to make Hatsu that next tournament.

9-6 Goeido and 8-5-2 Takayasu maintain their respective Ozeki positions from Kyushu; neither is kadoban.

Lower San’yaku

S1 Mitakeumi Tamawashi
K1 Takakeisho  Onosho
K2 Hokutofuji

Three rikishi will drop out of San’yaku: Sekiwake Yoshikaze and “Ozekiwake” Terunofuji, as well as Komusubi Kotoshogiku. Two incumbents remain. Mitakeumi defended his S1e rank and is the only definite placement among the San’yaku contenders.

Who gets the other Sekiwake slot? The contenders are Onosho, incumbent Komusubi who achieved a bare-minimum 8-7 kachi-koshi winning record, and the two rikishi ranked just below him who both went 11-4: M1e Tamawashi and M1w Takakeisho. Because Takakeisho is ranked below Tamawashi, he cannot jump over him with the same record, and is almost certainly out of the running for Sekiwake despite assembling a very strong record against tough competition and defeating Tamawashi head-to-head. Takakeisho will instead make his first San’yaku appearance as shin-Komusubi.

Onosho’s main claim to Sekiwake rank is that he achieved a winning record as Komusubi, and normally that gets first dibs on any open Sekiwake slot. He also defeated Tamawashi and Takakeisho head-to-head. But his overall record isn’t as strong. In addition to the wins over the two M1 rikishi, he defeated one Yokozuna, one Komusubi, M3 Hokutofuji, and three other rank-and-filers. He had six losses to San’yaku opponents, and also lost to the woeful Tochiozan.

By comparison, Tamawashi defeated two Yokozuna, one Ozeki, two Sekiwake, one Komusubi, and Hokutofuji, with no “bad” losses. Takakeisho was similarly impressive, defeating two Yokozuna, one Ozeki, two Sekiwake, and Tamawashi, and losing only to a Yokozuna, an Ozeki, and the two Komusubi. By the numbers, Tamawashi, Takakeisho, and, for that matter, Hokutofuji, all performed better than Onosho. Since I’m a numbers guy, I’m going with the forecast above, but don’t be surprised if the NSK goes by rank instead, and the banzuke ends up with S1w Onosho, K1e Tamawashi, K1w Takakeisho. They could also give everyone a promotion with S1w Tamawashi, K1e Onosho, and K1w Takakeisho, although this would only increase the disparity between the two M1 rikishi.

A better solution to this mess might be to create an extra Sekiwake slot, but this seems highly unlikely, since an 11-4 record at M1 is not considered strong enough to “force” such an extra slot, and neither is an 8-7 record at Komusubi. Plus this still leaves out one of the deserving trio, and they’re certainly not creating two extra slots!

Finally, Hokutofuji more than earned an extra Komusubi slot—no rikishi with his rank and record has ever been left out of San’yaku. Given recent events, sumo could use both an extra rikishi in the upper ranks and a positive story, so I’m going with Hokutofuji at K2e, though this is also far from certain.

Upper Maegashira

M1 Ichinojo Yoshikaze
M2 Kotoshogiku Tochinoshin
M3 Chiyotairyu Arawashi
M4 Shodai Endo
M5 Okinoumi Takarafuji

If there are 10 rikishi in the named ranks as predicted, and if they all participate for the entire tournament, the M1-M3 ranks will constitute the joi, facing a full slate of San’yaku opponents. However, recent history suggests that some or all in the M4-M5 ranks will be drawn into the fray as well.

Ichinojo performed well enough in Kyushu to have received a San’yaku rank on many a banzuke, but he misses out on this top-heavy one. If he keeps bringing the same sumo, it’s only a matter of time. Okinoumi moves up 7 spots, and Endo moves up 5. I gave Endo the nod over Okinoumi because he is popular, and they owe him one after the “unorthodox” scheduling near the end of Kyushu.

Mid-Maegashira

M6 Ikioi Chiyonokuni
M7 Chiyoshoma Tochiozan
M8 Kaisei Chiyomaru
M9 Sokokurai Shohozan
M10 Aminishiki Terunofuji
M11 Kotoyuki Daishomaru
M12 Daieisho Kagayaki
M13 Abi Takekaze

Another potential minefield for predictions. With the exception of Ikioi, no current member of Makuuchi among this group achieved even 9 wins in Kyushu; everyone else is either getting promoted too much with a bare-minimum 8 wins, or not getting demoted enough. I’ve given Terunofuji the most generous placement I can justify. Sokokurai, who went 14-1 in Juryo, gets the highest placement for a promoted rikishi since May 2016. Abi makes his highly anticipated Makuuchi debut at M13.

Lower Maegashira

M14 Asanoyama Ishiura
M15 Yutakayama Nishikigi
M16 Daiamami Ryuden

Harumafuji’s retirement and Terunofuji’s demotion shrink San’yaku to either 9 or 10 members. I’m going with 10, and so my banzuke extends down to M16w. If Hokutofuji is left out of San’yaku, the banzuke would extend to M17 for the first time since July 2014.

Harumafuji’s retirement at least clarified the line between Makuuchi and Juryo. We don’t have to decide if Daiamami did just enough to earn a second chance, or if Ryuden did just enough to get promoted—both should be in the top division in January. They’ll be joined by Asanoyama, who’ll be looking to regain his Aki form, Ishiura, who gets another shot at showing that he belongs in Makuuchi, where he successfully fought for nearly a year before a disastrous Aki landed him in Juryo, Yutakayama, who will be looking to improve on his two previous one-and-done 4-11 top-division tournaments, and Nishikigi, who just barely survives yet again.

Comparing the Great Ones: The Lasting Impact of Generational Athletes

Hakuho-Gretzky Final

Today marks one week since the end of the 2017 Kyushu basho, and while most of the post-tournament media has centered around the unfortunate retirement of Harumafuji, there are still several stories to be covered as we move on from Fukuoka. One such story is the milestone 40th yusho win by Yokozuna Hakuho Sho. In a post last week, Bruce summarized Hakuho’s decorated career by comparing him to several of the worlds most talented athletes. While all of these comparisons are accurate, when I explain the Dai-Yokozuna to my non-sumo friends and family, there is only one man whose achievements in his respective sport are equal to those of Hakuho: The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

While sumo and hockey couldn’t be more different, there are striking similarities between the careers of Hakuho and Gretzky. For starters, both men began their professional careers in their late teens, with Hakuho having his maezumo tournament at 16, while Gretzky made his first WHA appearance at the age of 17. It took less than seven years for each of them to achieve the top prize in their respective sports, with Hakuho earning his first yusho six years after his debut and Gretzky winning The Stanley Cup in his fifth season. But the most comparable characteristic Hakuho and Gretzky share is the lasting impact they have had on their sports. As the most dominant athletes to ever compete in sumo and hockey respectively, Hakuho and Gretzky have accumulated an impressive array of achievements and accolades. While Gretzky holds the records for points, goals, and assists in hockey, sumo’s records for most yusho (40), zensho yusho (13), career wins (1064), and top division wins (970) belong to Hakuho. With such colossal records as these, and with no athlete past or present coming close to equaling them, the legacies of these two men may never be surpassed. As the Wayne Gretzky of sumo, Hakuho’s impact on Japan’s national sport will be felt for decades to come.

So what does this all mean to sumo fans moving forward? Well, as a hockey enthusiast, I’ve learned of several realities one must come to terms with when their favourite sport is dominated by generational athletes such as Hakuho and Gretzky.

1. Hakuho’s records will go unbroken for a very long time
The majority of Gretzky’s records were set in the 1980’s, and since then no player has come close to breaking them. They have stood for over 30 years, and sumo fans could see Hakuho’s records stand just as long, if not longer. Hakuho may be a once in a lifetime athlete, but a bit of luck also played a part in his success. He has remained relatively injury-free for much of his career and staying in fighting form for so long allowed him to set the bar to such a high degree. It will take another generational athlete with a similar set of circumstances to come close to rivaling Hakuho’s legacy.

2. Second is the new first
Since Gretzky’s time, there have been a select few who have made runs at his records. The only active player within sight of these lofty achievements is Jaromir Jagr, who despite playing well into his forties, still trails Gretzky by a staggering 937 points. Despite being the ultimate second fiddle, Jagr is considered one of the all-time greats of the sport. Much in the same vein, as Hakuho’s achievements rise further and further out of reach, many a Yokozuna’s career will be defined by how close they can get to his records. Sumo’s future legends will be those who can surpass Taiho’s 32 yusho mark, or Kaio’s 1047 career wins, and end their careers nearest to Hakuho.

3. Future greats of the sport will be compared to Hakuho
It is no secret that a changing of the guard is poised to take place in the world of Sumo. Many veterans will soon begin to leave the fighting to younger generations, and new stars will emerge to take their place. Much like every standout NHL rookie has been called the next Gretzky, sumo’s great rikishi of tomorrow will undoubtedly be compared to Hakuho at every milestone. Hakuho will be the measuring stick upon which every future Yokozuna will be judged, for better or for worse.

Love him or hate him, it is undeniable that Hakuho’s achievements will remain a part of sumo’s rich tapestry for years, if not decades, to come. He is The Great One of sumo, the Gretzky of rikishi, and the most dominant Yokozuna of all time. Hakuho has climbed to the top of the mountain, and it will take a hell of a man to knock him down.

Summary of the Meeting of the Board of Directors of the NSK, Nov. 30

Yesterday, Nov. 30, the NSK Board of Directors held its regular meeting. In addition to run-of-the-mill stuff like the creation of a new heya, much of the discussion was around matters related to the Harumafuji scandal.

press-conference-nov-30

The board of directors finally succeeded in securing Takanohana’s cooperation with the crisis committee’s investigation. Takanohana claimed that cooperating with them will interfere with the police investigation. The board contacted the Tottori police by phone, and were told that the matter is left to their discretion. Eventually Takanohana agreed to cooperate once the police investigation is complete. The police is expected to hand its report to the prosecutor in mid-December. So the crisis committee expects to interview Takanoiwa and prepare a final report by December 20th. At that time, irregular meetings of both the YDC and the NSK board will be held, and further decisions will be made.

The decisions are not expected to relate to Harumafuji himself, as he is no longer an employee of the NSK.

Hakuho and his stablemaster, Miyagino oyakata, were called in to the meeting, and reprimanded severely for Hakuho’s conduct – the “matta” protest, the contents of his yusho speech, and the “banzai”.

Another decision was related to a publication in Shukkan Shincho (a weekly magazine) which claimed that Mongolian rikishi were exchanging Yaocho among themselves. The NSK will file a complaint against the magazine.

It was decided that since Takanohana is deeply involved in the current issue, he will sit out the Winter Jungyo, and Kasugano oyakata will take his place.

The crisis committee presented an interim report. They still need to interview Takanoiwa, but having interviewed everybody else involved, they believe the content is pretty much established. Following the board meeting, a press conference was held and the details of the interim report were presented.

Details of the assault

  • On October 25th, a dinner party was held by associates of the Tottori Johoku High School, to support their graduates. The dinner party included Hakhuo, Kakuryu, Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Takanoiwa, Ishiura, and people from Tottory Johoku high. This was not a Mongolian-only meeting nor was it intended as such.
  • In the dinner party itself, Hakuho took issue with Takanoiwa regarding rude behavior he exhibited in September at some restaurant in Tokyo. In this instance, Harumafuji defended Takanoiwa and the matter was dropped.
  • Harumafuji usually had a soft spot for Takanoiwa, who has lost both his parents, because he himself lost his father. He would give him advice, buy him meals etc.
  • The after-party, which took place in another venue – a private room in a lounge bar – included most of the participants in the dinner party.
  • At the after-party, Hakuho started lecturing to Terunofuji and Takanoiwa that they should be dutifully thankful to their high school for their ability to do sumo.
  • Takanoiwa began fiddling with his smartphone. Harumafuji berated him for doing that in the middle of Hakuho’s speech. Takanoiwa answered “It’s mail from my girlfriend” with a wry smile. This angered Harumafuji, and he slapped Takanoiwa on his face once.
  • Takanoiwa returned a defiant stare and did not apologize. At this point Harumafuji proceeded to slap him about 10 times, and added a few hits to the head with the karaoke remote control, demanding the apology.
  • Harumafuji picked up a bottle of champagne and raised it above his head, but it slipped and fell. He did not hit Takanoiwa with a bottle,  did not attempt to throw any other object at him, and did not straddle him at any point.
  • Hakuho stepped in, and the beating stopped.
  • Harumafuji drank sake on that occasion, but was not heavily drunk, and has full memory of the entire affair. There is no evidence of bad drunken behavior on his part on previous occasions.
  • The result of the beating was an injury which required the use of a skin stapler.
  • According to the hospital that issued the medical certificate, it is doubtful that there was a skull fracture or a leakage of cranial fluid. [Note: this could also be translated as “there was a suspicion of fracture/leakage”. Choose your version.]
  • The medical certificate included a rest period of two weeks which was supposed to be from October 26th through November 8th, and he was released on November 9th after the hospital was satisfied with his state of health.

This summary is based on several news outlets, primarily: