Kyushu Basho — Day 13 — November 22nd — Fukuoka Kokusai Center
A former Ozeki who at one point considered retirement, has secured his return to sekitori (salaried wrestler) status.
Translated from: https://www.nikkansports.com/battle/sumo/news/201911220000550.html
After having undergone surgery for knee injuries and dropping to the Jonidan (second lowest) division, Terunofuji (27, Isegahama-beya) has made his way to Makushita 10 after four basho in a row with winning records. He defeated Makushita 51 Tsushimanada (Sakaigawa-beya) with a yorikiri, scoring for himself a perfect 7-0 zensho yusho (no-loss championship). By winning 7 bouts at a rank higher than Makushita 15, he has secured a re-promotion to Juryo.
Terunofuji defended well against his opponent’s attempt to uproot him with a low attack, lifting from underneath Terunofuji’s arm. Using Tsushimanada’s arm, the former Ozeki deflected his forward motion and secured a migi-yotsu (right arm inside) grip. From there, Terunofuji performed a powerful yorikiri force-out.
After dropping to Jonidan, it took Terunofuji four basho, with a record of 32 wins, 3 losses [across those basho] to reclaim his place among the sekitori. Breathing heavily, Terunofuji said in an interview, “It will be really nice when the promotion is official.”
Two years ago during the Kyushu Basho, his first time at the rank of Sekiwake after 14 tournaments at Ozeki, Terunofuji posted 4 losses in a row, and by day 5 of the tournament he dropped out. During the following year he only attended one basho (May 2018). After 9 losses and 6 absences at that tournament, he fell even further out of the Juryo division.
Thinking about retirement during the following 4 tournaments, Terunofuji said, “I did feel like I wanted to quit. My stablemaster and his wife told me to give it one more chance. There were also other wrestlers giving me motivation during training. I started to believe in myself again. I’m so happy it led to this.” Although his stern expression did not fade, Terunofuji’s words expressed relief.
“I couldn’t watch any sumo until earlier this year because it would always make me upset.” said Terunofuji. He says he wont make the same mistake again. “I want to see how far I can get in one year,” he said, “I’ll do my very best.” Ozeki pride is not an obstacle for Terunofuji. He is taking everything step by step with the ultimate goal of a top division return.