Hakuho Continues Path To 63 Grand Tournaments

Yokozuna Hakuho will take the next step in his career, when he steps into the ring to start the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Jan. 14.

Ranked by the Japan Sumo Association, as the top sumo in the most recent rankings, the Mongolian is poised to tie Kitanoumi’s record for 63 grand tournaments at sumo’s ultimate rank.

Having wrapped up the Kyushu tourney with a 14-1 mark to extend his record for career grand tournament championships to 40, Hakuho now rules over a tumultuous scene. With Harumafuji’s shock retirement following the news he assaulted and injured another wrestler, the 15-day event at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan ends a five-tournament stretch when the sport boasted four yokozuna.

Kisenosato, who has not completed a tournament since his debut at the rank in March, comes in as the top west yokozuna. Kakuryu, who has also withdrawn from the past four tourneys and has not wrestled in a grand tournament since July, fills the second east slot.

The ozeki pair of Goeido and Takayasu, who will look to complete his first tournament since July, are coming off a Kyushu tourney in which both achieved winning records. Mitakeumi returns for the fourth straight tournament at sekiwake.

Tamawashi returns to sumo’s third-highest rank for the first time since July thanks to an 11-4 mark in Kyushu as a No. 1 maegashira.

The komusubi rank will be held down by 21-year-old Takakeisho, who has risen rapidly through the ranks since making his professional debut November 2014. The first wrestler in the Takanohana stable to reach the sanyaku, the three ranks between yokozuna and the maegashira rank-and-file wrestlers, Takakeisho posted an 11-4 record in November that included wins over two yokozuna.

He will be joined on the east by Onosho, who made his makuuchi division debut in May and returns for his second straight tournament as komusubi.

Former ozeki Terunofuji, who was winless in Kyushu as a sekiwake before withdrawing, suffered a great fall in the rankings, dropping to No. 10 maegashira. Takanoiwa, who missed the Kyushu tourney as a result of injuries suffered in the incident with Harumafuji drops out of the makuuchi division.

To take up the slack, three former makuuchi wrestlers will return from the second-tier juryo division. Sokokurai, who was 14-1 in November, will wrestle at No. 12, while Toyoyama will be at No. 14 and Ishiura No. 15.

Two wrestlers will be making their first appearances in the top flight, 23-year-old No. 14 maegashira Abi and 27-year-old No. 16 Ryuden.

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