Yokozuna Terunofuji heading into Kyushu Basho with no equal in sight

The Terunofuji period will get into full swing within the upcoming November Grand Sumo Match.

The veteran wrestler made his debut at sumo’s highest rank final trip, however following the retirement of legendary yokozuna Hakuho in September, Terunofuji now finds himself alone atop the banzuke for the primary time.

Out of the shadow of arguably the best rikishi ever to strap on a mawashi, the Isegahama secure man has a golden likelihood to cement his personal legacy, and figures to do exactly that by persevering with an impressive latest run of success.

Hakuho stays in sumo as an elder known as Magaki, however his consideration will likely be centered on getting ready to open his personal secure, and coaching Terunofuji’s future rivals.

The previous yokozuna’s presence within the background, nonetheless, can have little influence on what occurs within the ring within the quick time period, because it seems as if the person he beat for the title on the ultimate day in July is about to dominate in a way paying homage to Hakuho at his peak.

Terunofuji, like Hakuho and Kakuryu earlier than him, has switched to Japanese nationality, that means he too will ultimately stroll the identical path as his fellow Mongolian-born yokozuna compatriots.

For now, although, the 191-cm, 173-kg yokozuna is with out peer within the ring and set to significantly burnish his status over the subsequent yr or so.

Since returning to the highest division in 2020, after what appeared like a number of career-ending accidents and diseases over the previous couple of years, Terunofuji has been nearly unstoppable.

4 championships and three runner-up finishes in eight tournaments ensured promotion from the division’s lowest rank to the game’s highest place in simply 12 months.

The style of Terunofuji’s wins and the way in which through which he has bossed round sumo’s elite present little solace to anybody hoping to problem him over the subsequent yr or two.

Relating to the race for the title this trip, It’s exhausting to look past the yokozuna. Terunofuji is just not solely head and shoulders above the competitors at this stage, however few of his potential rivals are in a superb place.

As with Hakuho in his prime, the one factor which will stand between Terunofuji and a sixth Emperors Cup is his personal physique. Rock stable mentally and with expertise, measurement and stability to his sumo, silverware appears a foregone conclusion for the quickly to be 30-year-old — barring an harm knocking him out of the working.

There’s quite a lot of up-and-coming expertise in sumo, nevertheless it’s troublesome to really feel assured concerning the capability of anybody within the prime division to pose a problem to Terunofuji’s title hopes this trip.

Takakeisho is the one at present lively rikishi who has persistently been in a position to go toe-to-toe with Terunofuji in key moments, however the ozeki nonetheless doesn’t seem to have absolutely recovered from a neck harm suffered in July and it’s unclear whether or not he can observe the instance of the yokozuna and alter his model of sumo to compensate for bodily limitations.

If wholesome, Takakeisho is the wrestler almost definitely to stymie Terunofuji’s effort to win a fourth Emperor’s Cup this yr. If not, the title race may turn into a procession from early on.

Hope for one thing extra aggressive will be present in the truth that the general expertise degree of the highest division is sort of excessive. Even with Tokushoryu falling to the second tier once more, there are nonetheless seven males in makuuchi who already know what it’s prefer to win a match.

Add to that the truth that solely three of 41 wrestlers within the prime tier have by no means been M5 or greater and {that a} full 61% of the rikishi within the division have sanyaku-level expertise, and one other shock championship can’t be dominated out. An enormous a part of profitable a title is having the ability to hold your head when the stress will increase over the ultimate few days and keep in rhythm — one thing that favors wrestlers who’ve been across the block quite a few occasions.

Tamawashi, a type of veterans with an out of the blue championship to his title, has occupied 33 of the 36 ranks between sekiwake 1 east and maegashira 16 west sooner or later in his profession. The Ulaanbaatar native, who turns 37 in the course of the first week of the basho, is unlikely to be fazed ought to he discover himself within the hunt for glory in the course of the second week of motion.

Means trumps expertise in fact and Terunofuji stays the recent favourite, however ought to the yokozuna falter, the make-up of the highest division nearly ensures a hard-fought, thrilling race.

One darkish horse value maintaining a tally of is attention-grabbing for greater than only a potential championship upset. Abi makes his first look within the prime division since coming back from a three-tournament suspension for violating COVID-19 restrictions.

Abi was a well-liked determine throughout his preliminary stand up the rankings, however a collection of scandals and controversies – certainly one of which led to the continued ban on rikishi utilizing social media — soured him within the eyes of many. His placing the lives of fellow wrestlers and members of his secure in danger when the coronavirus pandemic was raging appeared set to finish his profession in Japan’s nationwide sport. Suspension nonetheless, quite than dismissal, was the shocking final result — a lot to the chagrin of a large part of sumo’s fanbase.

Abi has been on his finest habits since his return and outcomes contained in the ring have been good — albeit towards a degree of competitors he would usually be anticipated to dominate.

At maegashira 15, the previous komusubi figures to proceed to do very properly. The potential for the Shikoroyama secure man lifting the Emperor’s Cup on Nov. 28 can’t be dominated out. Given all that has transpired over the previous two years, that may be an unimaginable storyline and redemption arc.

Hoshoryu, additionally amongst exterior title hopefuls, has been gaining column inches and followers in equal measure. The up-and-coming younger wrestler stands out as the nephew of former yokozuna Asashoryu, however his sumo, physique and document up to now way more intently mirrors that of a unique yokozuna — Harumafuji.

The present prime division now could be undoubtedly weaker than when Harumafuji (or Ama, as he was initially identified) was on the rise, so Hoshoryu may push on faster than his Mongolian predecessor and contend for titles and better ranks at an earlier stage. The 22-year-old undoubtedly has quite a lot of potential, however whether or not or not he can develop his sumo (and his physique) stays to be seen. Former ozeki Takayasu as soon as had a profession path that was similar to — however a number of years behind — Kakuryu, however whereas the latter man turned yokozuna and received six championships, Takayasu stalled at ozeki and has by no means lifted the Emperor’s Cup.

In a sport as mentally difficult as sumo, comparisons between rikishi with regards to physique, model or document solely go up to now. The acute suddenness of the game implies that the flexibility to stay centered beneath stress is essential, and with that stress ramping up at each degree, it’s inconceivable to understand how a younger wrestler will do on the prime finish till he has really been there in motion.

Even so, Hoshoryu appears like a superb guess to do properly. The continued story of the younger man having to cope with his uncle’s oftentimes explosive social media posts will get a brand new twist, as Asashoryu has introduced he’ll be in Kyushu to observe his nephew in particular person.

Hoshoryu finds himself within the unenviable place of getting to take care of present and former Mongolian yokozuna inside and outdoors of the ring in Fukuoka.

That received’t assist his title possibilities, however even sans Asashoryu watching over his shoulder, the younger wrestler will, like everybody else in sumo, most likely have the ability to do little extra in November than watch Terunofuji march to a different title.

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