Following Shodai’s successful Aki Basho and promotion, three Ozeki sit atop the rankings chart, just below the waning Yokozuna. It will be one year in November since three Ozeki — Takakeisho, Takayasu, and Goeido — competed together. Of those three, only the 24 year old Takakeisho remains at the rank.
A little over a week after the end of the September tournament, Chiganoura Stable resumed its morning practice. Takakeisho worked on basic movements and some barbell weight training. Reporters were present for the first time in a while, taking photos and waiting for an opportunity to talk to September’s 12-3 runner-up about his preparations for next month.
“I want to use my special ability to attack with pushing and thrusting,” said Takakeisho, “All I need to do is increase my power.”
When asked about his feelings on Shodai’s promotion, Takakeisho told reporters, “I think Shodai made it to Ozeki because he’s strong. We’re at the same rank now, so we should move forward and do our best. I don’t want to lose to anyone, but I’m not the only one who feels that way. I have to win titles as an Ozeki. I will continue to push for it.”
Joining a clearly motivated section of the banzuke, Shodai began making his own preparations this week for his Ozeki debut. No doubt busier than ever with yusho celebrations and promotion parties, the 28 year old from Kumamoto engaged reporters after morning practice in the Tokitsukaze-beya training hall.
“I’m feeling more pressure than before. I want to be a big presence as a new Ozeki,” Shodai commented. He went on to say that despite a week off of wrestling, he’s not sure how much he really got to relax.
“Mostly I just want to impose my own style of sumo and get at least 8 wins. I’m focusing on building my body through strength training, then from there, making sure my sumo sense is on point.”
November 8th is the start of a new chapter in sumo history. A seemingly stacked Ozeki card will take on the past decade’s most dominant figures in the form of Yokozuna Hakuho and Kakuryu. All this amid ongoing worries about coronavirus that will force yet another regularly out-of-town basho to take place at home in Tokyo.
Source: Nikkan Sports