Both Yokozuna to Take September Off

Two days before the beginning of Aki Basho, both current Yokozuna submitted doctor’s notes to the sumo association, withdrawing from the tournament. This will be the first time in 37 years that two or more active Yokozuna will not compete from day one. The last time this happened was at Natsu Basho 1983, when both Chiyonofuji and Kitanoumi did not show for the entire tournament.

Because of recent injuries and the extensive wear and tear that a lengthy sumo career will inevitably cause, there has been talk of a possible kyujo by one or both Yokozuna this month. It was made official today, the same day that the first and second match-ups for Aki Basho were published. Replacing the Yokozuna, the two Ozeki will cap off each day’s action, with Takakeisho taking on M1 Terunofuji, and Asanoyama going up against Komusubi Endo on day 1.

In July, Hakuho suffered a right knee injury in his day 12 loss to Mitakeumi. This was his second straight loss, having gone undefeated for the first 10 days. Diagnosed as a tear of the patellofemoral ligament, the injury caused him to withdraw immediately and required endoscopic surgery on August 13. This, on top of a lingering elbow injury, has kept Hakuho from training.

Kakuryu’s right elbow injury which he sustained in his very first July bout is still hampering his ability to fight effectively. Unable to move the way he wants to in training, Kakuryu may be at a crossroads in his career. According to his stablemaster Michinoku, “We’re at the point where we need to make a decision.” That is, whether to fight on from November, or retire.

When you’ve reached the very top rank in sumo, there is no promotion or demotion. Based on a Yokozuna’s results, there are two options — continue to fight well, or leave. If Kakuryu is able to show up to the November basho, he will be expected to fulfill the somewhat ambiguous “responsibility of a Yokozuna.” Essentially he will have 15 days of competition to convince the association that he is still worthy.

“The injury may not be back to 100%,” said Michinoku-oyakata, “If he takes a rest and then returns in November, I think we’ll have our answer.”

Source: Nikkan Sports

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