Terunofuji Aims for “Double Digits” and Ozeki Return

Most sumo stables take one week of complete rest after a basho before resuming training. During the first week back, wrestlers usually work on foundational movements such as shiko, footwork, pole striking, and push ups. This first week back began with a bit more intensity than that for Komusubi Terunofuji though.

“This is normal at our stable,” explained the November runner up, after some 20 practice bouts with Isegahama stablemate Takarafuji. “We always do it this way.” He had said the same thing just a few days after this past basho in reference to beginning his training cycle with a personal training session — Terunofuji is known to powerlift regularly, and it shows out on the clay.

The Sanyaku returnee challenged Ozeki Takakeisho on the final day of the November tournament. Takakeisho maintained the top position for the entire title race, while Terunofuji ran into roadblocks in the form of Daieisho and Takayasu midway through the basho. With the help of Tobizaru, who threw a monkey-wrench into the Ozeki’s yusho stride on day 9, Terunofuji held onto a playoff chance all the way until Senshuraku.

The regulation bout between them saw Terunofuji unleash a mighty abisetaoshi (frontal crush down) after getting inside on Takakeisho. However, Takakeisho readjusted his strategy well against the Mongolian powerhouse and overwhelmed him in the playoff with just a few signature pushes and thrusts. Terunofuji ended the tournament at 13-2 (runner up), and he received his second technique prize. “The basho’s already over,” said Terunofuji, having clearly hoped for just a little more out of it. “I’m just looking ahead to the next basho and doing my best.”

“These next three basho are crucial,” Terunofuji had said in an interview prior to November. He was of course referring to the ambitious goal of an Ozeki return, to which he applies no small amount of realism. Still, “I got 13 wins (in November), so I feel like I can try for double digits (again in January),” he said.

Starting with an epic, historical return to the top division after devastating injuries and health issues, then a first-time-back yusho from the lowest rank possible, and finally this double digit Sanyaku return, it was a smooth sailing year for Terunofuji — at least for those watching. “Well, it certainly went according to plan, didn’t it,” Terunofuji commented. “After doing everything I could, I think it’s great if people derive inspiration from that,” he said humbly.

Juichigatsu Basho ended on the 22nd. Seven days later was Terunofuji’s 29th birthday. “I think I’d like to go into my 30s having finished out my 20s well,” he told reporters, showing no intention of quitting any time soon.

At the other end of the salaried spectrum, brand new Juryo entrant Oho (former Naya), made a visit to Yokozuna Taiho (his grandfather)’s memorial sumo hall in Teshikaga, Hokkaido (marked with a red pin below) this week. The trip was said to have renewed the young hopeful’s determination ahead of Hatsu Basho. “I don’t have any experience with fighting for 15 days straight, so I don’t know how that will go,” said Oho, “but I hope to rack up some wins through spirited sumo.”

After observing the great sumo legend’s artifacts, Oho attended his own kesho mawashi (ceremonial apron) presentation and Juryo promotion party which was held in the same town. There, he promised to take on the 15 day challenge, and give it all he’s got with his own brand of sumo.

Source: Nikkan Sports

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