MMA Rundown

Sumo Update: September Toyko Basho Has Arrived, but Everyone Is Injured

Sumo wrestling has returned to Toyko. The September Basho is upon us. And since the tournament start last Sunday, this basho has been a shit show.

Last tournament in Nagoya ended with a bunch of title-holding wrestlers injured. Hakuho, the yokozuna who dominated the previous tournament before Nagoya, continued his streak of controlling the top ranks of sumo. Nagoya had promised four yokozuna facing off, but that promise didn’t make it past the fifth day. Two yokozuna ended up pulled out from that tournament, and it seemed like the injury report was the second biggest story after Hakuho’s surpassing the record for most sumo victories in a career. Despite that, leading up to the start of the Autumn Basho in Toyko, there was hope that all four yokozuna might be competing this go around. That was not to be the case.

In the final week leading up to basho start, Kinsenasato, the Japanese Yokozuna and current darling of the sport, announced he would not be competing. His team cited the shoulder injury that has plagued him since winning back to back bashos earlier this year. The legendary Hakuho strained his left knee coming out of the Nagoya tournament, and in the final days before the tournament, decided he hadn’t healed significantly enough to compete. Kakuryu is still nursing a foot injury. He has pulled out of multiple tournaments over the year and is facing pressure to retire from the sport after only completing one tournament so far this year (going 10-5).

But the injuries wouldn’t stop once the the basho began. During the first three days, Ozeki Takayasu and popular Maegashira Ura both left the tournament due to injury. Takayasu was a favorite to win the whole tournament with so many yokozuna out, but it was not meant to be.

Currently, the odds-on-favorite to take the tournament is the sole remaining yokozuna, Harumafuji. But, as with everything this tournament, even that does not seem to be going to plan.

In his third fight of the basho, he lost a match against Maegashira Kotoshogiku after mistakenly thinking he started the match early and it’d be stopped by the referee. Check it out:

Things only got worse from there for the lone remaining yokozuna. The following day, current tournament leader Kotoshogiku defeated Harumafuji in a match where the yokozuna was overpowered without controversy. After only four days, this tournament has been packed full of drama and upsets, this being the highest profile of them all.

We are only four days of competition into the tournament and it really is anyone’s to take. With so many high profile wrestlers out, all eyes in the sumo world are turning to the newer generation in the lower ranks to see who will seize the opportunity to win a basho. Tied with the current leader Kotoshogiku, 21-year-old Onosho is lighting the sumo ranks on fire. After only entering the highest ranks of sumo this past May, winning the Autumn Basho would be quite the accomplishment. Ozeki Goeido, who needs an 8 win tournament to remain an Ozeki, is also looking posed to perhaps snatch a tournament victory while stiffer competition is out.

Middle Easy will keep you updated as the tournament progresses to see who will win this dramatic and injury-filled basho.