Kisenosato Top Ranked in Summer Basho

Kisenosato has already had quite the 2017 — he was promoted to yokozuna after winning the New Year Basho with a 14-1 record, and then narrowly edged out Terunofuji for the Spring Basho title. With his win in the latter, Kisenosato became the first new yokozuna in 22 years to win his debut tournament at the rank.

While Kisenosato has had to take a month to recover after damaging some muscle in his left arm during the March tournament, he looks to come in better than ever at the Summer Basho in a couple of weeks. Kisenosato will enter the tournament as the top east slot among four yokozunas, the first time a Japanese yokozuna has achieved this since 2001.

“I’m not straining or rushing myself, but just thinking about what to do with the May tourney in mind. I hope to do well there,” Kisenosato told The Japan Times. “I almost have no pain. I’m 100 percent fit in terms of my lower body, and I’ll work gradually on my upper body.

“I’ll go back to the basics in training and hopefully things will go in a good direction.”

The other three yokozunas competing in the Summer Basho, in seeding order, are Kakuryu, Harumafuji and Hakuho. Both Kakuryu and Harumafuji finished the March tournament with 10-5 records. Hakuho missed most of that event due to injury, but he will be competing in his 59th grand tournament as a yokozuna, tied for second most all-time. Hakuho has won 37 tournament titles.

Terunofuji will enter the tournament as the top east ozeki, while Goeido also enters this basho with the ozeki rank. Goeido must win eight bouts this month, or else he will be dropped down to sekiwake.

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Speaking of which, Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi and Takayasu all enter this tournament at said rank. All three were at this rank in March, where Kotoshogiku just fell short of being promoted to ozeki.

Takayasu won 11 bouts in January and 12 in March. Another double-digit win performance in this tournament and he will earn promotion to ozeki.

“I’ll try to be imposing from the first day and aim to win all 15 bouts,” Takayasu said. “I shouldn’t rush things. I can have good bouts if I’m healthy mentally. I want to be greedier and be the one to catch people’s attention this time.”

Yutakayama and Onosho round out the tournament squad, making their tournament debuts at sumo’s top division.

The tournament takes place at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo from May 14-28.

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