He didn’t get more specific about when he would retire but there had been a lot of speculation that his ultimate goal was to be active for this year’s Olympics, where he will be a torch-bearer. Herouth found the tweet below, I stepped back to the original video before the workout video. Herouth’s thread below.
Hakuho gives us a rare peek into his weight training routine. He mentions he dyes his supporters to make them soon-to-be, per regulation. Dyes with… black tea.
Then he blurts out: "I might as well let you see everything. It's going to end this year. I'll retire this year."
The first video from the original tweet gave some more inside into his motivations, namely to spend more time with his family and to raise a new crop of wrestlers. This past New Year, for example, he spent in Australia with his family…on his new passport as a Japanese national. So for those Tachiai readers in Oz (esp. Sydney) you may have seen him around town.
Right after having enjoyed the countdown to the new decade, we’re already about to begin another countdown, till the first honbasho of the year.
Amongst New Year’s traditions, rikishi reveal on television their wishes and expectations for the coming year.
This article may be the occasion for us to discuss specific issues, which may become critical in 2020 or which are already razor sharp.
I’ll give my personal opinion on the matters but everyone should feel free to fuel some awesome debates !
1. Will Takayasu be an ozeki by the end of 2020 ?
Probably the hottest topic currently. Takayasu’s been around for a while – he entered maku’uchi in 2011, and hasn’t had a very long ozeki career – about two years and a half.
Takayasu’s rise was no fluke however, as he produced some great performances, earning kinboshi twice in 2013 and twice in 2014. The Ibaraki-born has a first ozeki run in 2016, but a disappointing 7-8 record in Kyushu wasted fine 11-4 and 10-5 performances.
He returned stronger next year, though, and reached the second highest rank after 11-4, 12-3 and 11-4 performances early in 2017.
Takayasu’s quest for glory undoubtly reached its peak in 2018. Aged 28, he ended up runner up thrice. He narrowly missed a spot in a playoff in the last honbasho of that year.
Last year was much more difficult for him. Before sustaining a serious injury in Nagoya, he produced indifferent 9-6, 10-5 and 9-6 performances. He failed to recover properly from his arm injury, and will start 2020 as an “ozekiwake”.
His repeated training sessions with retired yokozuna Kisenosato – now Araiso oyakata – and new tachi-ai strategy have been criticized among Twitter followers.
Takayasu has to think his tale isn’t over at the top, as he never lifted the Emperor’s Cup. Turning 30 in February, with an irreversible injury to his arm, will he produce the necessary ten wins to regain his ozeki rank ? If he does, can he maintain his performances during 2020 ?
My prediction : no
2. Will Goeido be an ozeki by the end of 2020 ?
A tricky question. It seems Goeido has been hanging around forever – he produced a noticed 11-4 performance for his maku’uchi debut, back in 2007. He had short stints in san’yaku but spent several years in the maegashira ranks.
The Osaka-native famously began an impressive run at sekiwake in May of 2012, which lasted fourteen tournaments until ozeki promotion after a fine 12-3 performance in Nagoya 2014. His inability to consistently produce strong performances raised doubts about his promotion quest. He got promoted a bit below the common 33 wins standards, with an indifferent 8-7 performance between two 12-3 results.
Goeido has been kadoban nine times (this year’s first tournament included), finished seven tournaments with just eight wins, and followers expected Goeido to produce an anonymous ozeki career.
Being kadoban, Goeido upset the odds during the Aki basho of 2016, winning his only yusho so far with a perfect 15-0 record. Suddenly a yokozuna candidate, he notched just nine wins the following tournament.
Exactly one year after, Goeido wasted a golden opportunity to lift the Emperor’s Cup during the Aki basho again, letting Harumafuji fill a three win deficit before defeating him in the ensuing playoff.
Years 2018 and 2019 were solid albeit unspectacular from Goeido. However, he had to pull out of two of the last three tournaments through injury. Entering 2020 kadoban, aged 33, will Goeido suffer from the weight of the years ? Or will he regain full fitness and enjoy a Kaio-like ozeki career, until the age of 39 ?
My prediction : no
3. Will Asanoyama become an ozeki in 2020 ?
All eyes are watching Asanoyama since he unexpectedly won the May 2019 tournament. After a honourable 7-8 record as then highest ranked maegashira 1, he ended up the year strongly, with 10-5 and 11-4 records. He’ll make his sekiwake debut in 2020.
Officially, Asanoyama is not on an ozeki run – his two last ranks were maegashira 2 and komosubi ; he might also regret not having collected one or two more feasable wins in Kyusho.
Nevertheless, Asanoyama’s quest is likely to be eased by the need for new blood at the ozeki ranks – Tochinoshin has been demoted, Takayasu is an uncertain ozekiwake for January, while Takakeisho and Goeido’s recent injury records are no cause for optimism.
Can Asanoyama be promoted as early as March after a tremendous yusho in January ? Or will he simply consolidate his performances, and reach the second highest rank this year ? Or will he fail to meet expactations, as Mitakeumi did so far ?
My prediction : yes
4. Will someone else reach the ozeki rank in 2020 ?
Note : that question does not include Takayasu or Asanoyama.
Abi seems more of a candidate than Mitakeumi, who disappointed again, after clinching his second yusho. Well he get another shot ?
Abi is on the rise, with 8-7, 9-6 and 9-6 records in san’yaku. Can he move up even higher ? His utter aversion for yotsu zumo might prove a stumblingblock, however.
Other candidates would be more original, but also wake up fans from all over the world ! Endo, Daieisho, Ichinojo, Hokutofuji fans and others are welcomed !
My prediction : no
5. How many yokozuna will remain after 2020 ?
This is a delicate question. Hakuho’s immediate target has long been identified: lasting at least until the Olympics. With his wish about to be granted, the obvious question is: what next ? Hakuho is on the top of almost every record – but is not the oldest rikishi having won a yusho: Kyokutenho achieved that feat, aged 37 years and 8 months.
He also said during the post-basho interview in November that he targeted 50 yushos – he currently has 43.
Many questions remain open: was he serious ? Is that goal actually realistic, given the general state of the field ? Will the ageing yokozuna (he’ll turn 35 in March) manage to hold his form ? Will he stay motivated ?
On a positive note, 2019 has been better for Hakuho than 2018, where he fully competed in just two tournaments. The past year, he competed in “three and a half” tournaments (he pulled out right at the end of the January basho), and won two of them.
About the opposite can be said about Kakuryu’s recent form. After a bright start in 2018, with 11-4, 13-2 and 14-1 records, he had to pull out of part or all of five tournaments. His win in Nagoya of 2019 gave him some respite. Turning 35 in August of this year, will he be able to compete during the whole year ?
My prediction: it’s difficult to answer. Hakuho might decide to retire and Kakuryu to thrive during 2020. But the opposite might also be true, with Hakuho clinching a few more yushos and Kakuryu being unable to challenge properly for the Cup. There’s a chance of seeing one yokozuna retiring and one yokozuna remaining.
Sumo’s last honbasho of the year 2019 came to an end, and dai-yokozuna Hakuho sealed a record extending 43th Emperor’s Cup, thanks to a rock-solid 14-1 performance. However, Hakuho’s absences thorough the year means another rikishi won the most matches during the current year – namely Asanoyama.
Asanoyama top the 2019 calendar year might look surprising at first sight;
however, a string of great performances meant Asanoyama’s recent success was no
fluke. In any case, it gives us the opportunity of a quick review of the past
winners of that symbolic award.
Hakuho Sho – 2007 to 2015 ; 2017
The road to the top
to say something that has not already been said about the GOAT. A few figures
may well show how meteoric his rise to the top has been :
entered maezumo in March 2001, and entered Makuuchi in May 2004.
– It took
him just four tournaments to enter san’yaku by the year 2005, after impressive
12-3, 11-4, 8-7 and 12-3 records.
became an ozeki in May 2006, and his ozeki results were: 14-1, 13-2, 8-7,
kyujo, 10-5, 13-2, 15-0. Woah.
Hakuho won most bouts during a calendar year from year 2007, as Asashoryu was still the other active yokozuna, exchanging fabulous bouts in the process.
However, the new yokozuna benefited from Asashoryu’s issues (he was suspended during the two last honbashos of 2007) and injuries (missing all or part of the three last bashos in 2008), during his late career. Still, Hakuho had to surrender three bashos during that period to his great rival.
wrestled free of absences during the whole year 2009, but his presence did not
stop Hakuho from collecting stratospheric numbers, with 14-1, 15-0, 14-1, 14-1,
14-1 and 15-0 records.
retirement in 2010, Hakuho entered a period of utter dominance, notching 86
wins out of 90 in 2009 and 2010. He collected « only » 66 wins in
2011, but let’s not forget that the March tournament had been cancelled.
continued his dominance during the next years; however, numbers tend to be a
bit deceptive as the dai-yokozuna saw the emergence of other rivals.
piled up 76 wins out of the 90 possible in 2012, which is quite impressive.
However, Hakuho’s dominance wasn’t absolute. Below his best, he secured just
ten wins in May, and had to surrender the Cup twice to Harumafuji, who became
that year a yokozuna alongside the great man.
another great year for him with a mouth-watering 82 wins. But it’s worth
mentionning another great rival’s performances: then ozeki Kisenosato finished
the four last bashos of the year as runner-up. He came mightily close from
beating the dai-yokozuna on day 14 of the May tournament, which would probably
have cemented a first yusho for one of Hakuho’s sternest challengers.
numbers remained excellent in 2014, even if that year saw fellow Mongolian
Kakuryu’s rise to yokozuna. The dai-yokozuna piled up 81 wins. That year was
the last to see him get more than 70 victories during a single year.
again the most bouts in 2015 (66), but had to pull out of the Aki basho, which
saw Kakuryu clinch his first yusho as a yokozuna. His dominance has been
strongly contested by the Isegahama pair, composed by Harumafuji (who won the
Kyushu basho, and helped Terunofuji clinch the May basho) and Terunofuji (with
Harumafuji’s mirror achievements).
issues meant we saw a rikishi other than Hakuho winning the most bout during
2016, namely Kisenosato.
returned to the top of that chart in 2017, albeit by a mere 56 victories, the
lowest he ever got while achieving that feat. Still not at his best, he paved
way for Kisenosato, who won the first two bashos of the year. The rest of the
year was more successful, winning in March, May and November (after seeing
Harumafuji retiring from his duties).
injuries limited Hakuho’s further appearances. He set up the Olympics in 2020
as his main target, and there’s speculation whether he’ll retire after.
However, his weakened body nevertheless put its fingers on the Emperor’s Cup in
Aki 2018, March and Kyushu 2019, and proved everyone that the greatest rikishi
of all time is still very much present.
We’ll focus next time on the winner of the most bout during the year 2016 : Kisenosato.
Today’s event was supposed to have been day 10, but of the three events in Shizuoka prefecture, the one at Izu – which was the place where the typhoon made its landfall – has been cancelled. Around noon October 13th, the rikishi finally left Yamanashi prefecture and headed around Mt. Fuji, down to Shizuoka, in big buses. There have been no safety issues for the rikishi and their support staff from the weather.