The Osaka Grand Sumo Tournament has reached its halfway point and the tournament’s reputation as the “stormy” Basho has gone largely unrealized. Which might be just the thing the sport of Sumo needs right now.
Before the beginning of the year, the sport of Sumo was reeling from the controversies surrounding the retirement of Yokohama Harumafuji. The start of January’s Basho was welcomed as a kind of getting back to business as usual. The sports hoped to keep it’s nose down and hope mainstream attention would go elsewhere. So, Tochinoshin’s surprise tournament victory in January and even the drama surrounding whether Kakuryu’s performance would save him from forced retirement were welcomed stories in the sumo community, considering what the popular narratives were last December.
Going into this tournament, it was all about whether Tochinoshin could continue his successful run and push for an Ozeki promotion this year, and would Kakuryu’s faltering in the last week of the January Basho carry on into this tournament. Well, Yokozuna Kakuryu address the latter concern in a major way. Demonstrating yet again why he earned the title Yokozuna, the Mongolian powerhouse is undefeated at Osaka, going 8-0 to start the tourney. He is in exactly the same position as he was in the January Basho, poised to right the mistakes of the Nihon Tournament. He shares the leaderboard with only one Rikishi, Maegashira #6 Ranked Kaisei.
Let’s watch Kakuryu serve two pieces and a biscuit to Shohozan, slapping him around the ring before taking the “hatakikomi”, or “slap down”, victory.
Just off the leaderboard at 7-1 to everyone’s surprise is the Maegashira #16 Daiamami. He will be pressed soon into higher ranked matches that will determine if he can actually contend for tournament victory.
Just below the three leaders, they are gang of wrestler in the mix to win the Osaka Basho. Seven different wrestlers, including Aoiyama at Maegashira #17, Daishomaru (M13), Ikioi (M14) and the Komusubi Ichinojo, will all be pitted against each other in the final few days to see who can actually contend with sumo’s elite.
As a part of this 6-2 group, Tochinoshin is on his quest ‘s for back to back Basho victories. His improbable dream is still very possible. With a lot of high profile matches still left for the Sekiwake, Tochinoshin he could easily wrestle himself back into contention. An upcoming battle again Kakuryu (the only man to beat him in the last tournament) could bring him within one match of the lead.
Let’s watch The Monster From Georgia Tochinoshin take out Takakeisho with a nifty move a ring’s edge, a “katasukashi” (under shoulder swing down) victory.
Also in the mix at 6-2 is both Ozeki, Takayasu and Goeido. Both Ozeki faltered on day one, so it is good to see them both recover and maintain a competitive record into the last week of sumo. It’s sizing up to be a fantastic finish last week as Sekiwake Tochinoshi, Ozeki Goeido, Ozeki Takayasu, and Yokozuna Kakuryu have all yet to fight each other. And they are all still very much in contention. This tournament is very much up for grabs in the final week.
Next Sunday we will have the tournament final was well as the winner ceremony of the Osaka Basho. For full coverage of the conclusion of the March tournament, always check out Jason’s All Sumo Channel on YouTube.