Following passing of JSA Chairman, Harumafuji’s win at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament was bittersweet

It should have been another big day for Harumafuji. The Mongolian yokozuna mounted a terrific comeback in the final days of the Kyushu Basho to finish in first place over his compatriot Hakuho, and took home the Emperor’s Cup. 

It wasn’t a celebration though, as the sumo community was still reeling from the passing of Japan Sumo Association Chairman Kitanoumi just 48 hours prior to Harumafuji’s victory.

The Japan Times reports that wrestlers and their stable masters were still visibly shaken up in the meet’s final days:

As the sport’s 55th yokozuna, Kitanoumi was hugely popular in his day. And as the winner of 24 career titles, he is still fifth on the all-time list of Emperor’s Cup winners.

His death was marked in a simple ceremony at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center in Fukuoka with a slow drive by of his hearse. A proper memorial is to be held Dec. 22 in Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Many senior wrestlers and stable-masters were visibly shaken when they heard the news and in large part, the final weekend of the tournament was a formality, albeit it one Harumafuji will not forget in a hurry.

Back in action for the first time since Day 1 of the Nagoya tournament in July, he trailed fellow yokozuna Hakuho until Day 13.

On Day 13, the two men went head to head, just hours before Kitanoumi passed away.

Harumafuji won the bout, and pulled level.

The following day, Hakuho lost again to ozeki Terunofuji, while Harumafuji beat Kakuryu.

Then, in a bizarre anti-climactic twist, both men lost on the final day, gifting Harumafuji the tournament overall with a 13-2 record to a 12-3 for Hakuho.

For Hakuho, it was the fist time he had gone two tournaments without taking the Emperor’s Cup in over three years.

For Harumafuji, already aged 31, it is his first top division title in two years. Whether he makes it to 10 career titles and becomes a ‘Dai-Yokozuna’ remains to be seen.

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