Yoshikaze wants to shine in his ‘homecoming’

The Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament will be a homecoming of sorts for Yoshikaze. The 33-year-old from Oita Prefecture considers the Kyushu Basho as a komusubi, the fourth highest rank in the sport. 

The Japan News ran a story on Yoshikaze ahead of his big moment:

For the first time in nine tournaments, Yoshikaze returns to the rank of komusubi, the fourth highest in the sport. His goal at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, which starts Sunday, is to “record double digits in victories for the fourth straight tournament,” he said.

During the last basho, the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament, Yoshikaze earned two kinboshi, or golden victory for wins over yokozuna, after defeating Hakuho and Kakuryu, while also beating two ozeki. His feats earned him two of the three special honors, the Outstanding Performance Award and Technique Award.

It will be interesting to see if the 33-year-old from the Oguruma stable can continue his excellent run.

Born in Oita Prefecture, Yoshikaze’s “home” basho is the Kyushu tournament.

“It’s the first time for me to come to this tournament at a high rank,” he said. “I can’t wait for the sumo to begin.”

The reason for his impatience is he truly feels he has more power now than when he was in his 20s.

Getting better with age

In 2002, while a third-year student at Nippon Sport Science University, he was an amateur yokozuna, but after being newly promoted to the top makuuchi division in 2006, he went up and down between the top and low ends of the division.

Sometime during that interval, he thought, “It would be best to somehow keep my place as a rank-and-file wrestler.”

The turning point was just about the time he was hitting 30. With younger wrestlers one after the other gaining higher positions on the banzuke rankings, his wife asked him, “You don’t feel any regret?”

After that exchange, his enthusiasm reawakened. He worked hard to retrain his body and the fruits of that labor were shown in his becoming a komusubi for last year’s summer tournament.

Now, despite being a wrestler closely watched by the sumo world, Yoshikaze is going to do everything in his power to perform well in front of the cheering home fans.

“I don’t know how many more years I can engage in sumo,” he said. “In this case, I want to wrestle understanding my situation.”

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