Aki Story 3 – Tochinoshin

Tochinoshin

Only 4 months ago, the sumo world celebrated Tochinoshin‘s monumental achievement. Battling back from a knee injury that could have ended his career he achieved the rarified rank of Ozeki with an impressive 37 wins over 3 consecutive tournaments. Sadly, his first tournament as Ozeki ended prematurely when he injured a big toe, and found he could no longer transmit power to ground. Tochinoshin finished Nagoya with 5 wins, and is now facing his first tournament as a kadoban Ozeki.

Just after his promotion, a post on this site detailing concerns over Tochinoshin’s unpredictable performance collected a good number of unhappy responses from readers and Tochinoshin fans. In that post, the case was made that Tochinoshin is perhaps the most fierce man in sumo – when he is healthy. But historically, consistent performance has been elusive for him. With the Aki basho just days away, Tochinoshin is employing his considerable work ethic to drive himself to be ready to compete, even though he continues to cite problems with his feet.

On Tuesday, Tochinoshin faced Ozeki hopeful Mitakeumi, along with Aoiyama and Tochiozan in a joint training session, engaging in an impressive 26 bouts. His record at the end of the day was a respectable 15-11. For Tochinoshin, it’s just another day of sumo. He has always shown that he is willing to train harder, to work longer than almost anyone. He is driven to succeed.

Team Tachiai is looking forward to seeing him back in action at Aki, and we hope that he clears his Kadoban status quickly and decisively.

Ozeki Takayasu Kyujo For Natsu, Too!

takayasu-profile

In a one-two blow for Tagonoura beya, Ozeki Takaysu is also listed as Kyujo for the upcoming Natsu basho. It has been clear for the past several days that he was nursing injuries to both arms, and now he has (wisely in my opinion) decided to recover rather than risk a career-limiting injury.

Takayasu represents Japan’s best hope for a native-born Yokozuna should ailing Kisenosato end up retiring later this year. It is a wise move to have him recover his strength and mobility before returning to competition.  With this absence, Takayasu will be kadoban ozeki for the Nagoya tournament in July.

The ranks for Natsu are already down to 2 Yokozuna and 1 Ozeki.  Should Hakuho withdraw, as Kintamayama has speculated, it would leave the roster with the bare minimum of 2 Ozeki/Yokozuna needed to conduct Honbasho.

As of late, Takayasu has added a habitual shoulder blast to his tachiai, and it has significantly changed his sumo (in my opinion for the worse). It comes as no surprise to me that he has injured it, and with any luck, he will go back to his low and aggressive sumo. The run-and-gun approach (in some ways copying Goeido) was working for him, but it seems to have torn up his body.

The team at Tachiai wish Takayasu a solid recovery, and hope to see him back in fierce fighting form in July.

Ozeki Goeido Clears Kadoban, Sole Aki Basho Leader

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Ozeki Goeido, Once Again Free of Kadoban Status

During day 9 action, Kadoban Ozeki Goeido scored his 8th win in a match against Aoiyama, marking his kachi-koshi and the removal of the kadoban status from his rank. This means Goeido is no longer at risk of losing his rank. Meanwhile, the rest of the basho co-leaders lost on day 9, leaving Goeido as the sole leader for the Emperor’s Cup with 6 days of competition to go.

Tachiai congratulates Ozeki Goeido, and wish him good fortune in defending his lead against an army of eager challengers.

Terunofuji (照ノ富士) Sheds His Kadoban Status

Terunofuji

Dispatched With Great Prejudice

Going into Haru, Terunofuji was a sad, depressing tale. As readers of Tachiai recall, both Andy and I lamented that Terunofuji was this amazing unstoppable force. Even Hakuho could not be counted on reliably to stop him. There were rikishi who were privately afraid to face him on the dohyo, as he had a tendency to win in ways that risked injury to his opponents.

Then came injuries, and more injuries. The Mongolian giant sometimes appeared as if he could hardly mount the dohyo let along present himself as a worthy opponent. As a result, he has been kadoban 4 times in the last 8 basho, and was becoming a bit of a parody of this original self. In the basho where he was able to secure a winning record, it was always 8-7, the minimum required. He was limping along, hoping to somehow endure.

On Tachiai we openly discussed if he should consider retirement, as he was not presenting Ozeki class sumo, and was embarrassing himself. There is nothing we can find in the sumo press that discusses how Terunofuji returned to close to his original form, but it’s clear that at least for Haru, the great Terunofuji is back.

Tachiai congratulates the big Ozeki in not just returning to confirmed Ozeki status, but doing so in a truly welcome display of strength and skill.