[sumo] The Lead-Up article to Start the Basho

Jack Gartin jacklg99 at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 12 17:29:33 EDT 2008


Here's an article from the Japan Times to get you in the mood:

Best
Tamagoyama

NAGOYA GRAND SUMO TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: Glory awaits the wrestler who can
handle the heat

James Hardy / Daily Yomiuri Sportswriter

Fifteen days of sweltering, sweaty competition in the glorified barn that is
Aichi Prefectural Gym kicks off this afternoon.

Spare a thought for everyone involved, from the humble ushers to the mighty
yokozuna. Nagoya at the moment--and pretty much everywhere else in Japan
south of Hakodate--is no place to be doing sumo.

Perhaps that accounts for some famous upsets at the July tournament:
Salt-shaker Mitoizumi, No. 13 maegashira Kotofuji, No. 1 maegashira Kongo,
Hawaiian-born Takamiyama and sekiwake Dejima all won their only Emperor's
Cups here, while a number of ozeki have overshadowed yokozuna, too.

Since 2004, though, Asashoryu has been the king of Nagoya Castle--his
victory last year in Hakuho's first tournament as a yokozuna looked to
restore his hegemony until he was suspended for two tournaments over the
"Mongolian Soccer Incident."

The runup to this tournament has seen Asashoryu worried more about his
health than his behavior. News out of the yokozuna's camp says he is
struggling with lower-back pain, while a less-than-stellar performance
against Sadogatake ozeki Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki in training suggested he
comes here out of shape and on the back foot.

Kotooshu will be hoping to capitalize on this, but needs to beat nemesis
Aminishiki on Day 1 before he can start thinking about a second-straight
Emperor's Cup, much less promotion to yokozuna.

If the Bulgarian can get the early belt hold and fast charge that worked for
him in May, then he will be in the hunt. Otherwise, Hakuho's smooth progress
in the runup to today's meeting with komusubi Kisenosato makes him a solid
favorite.

Kisenosato could throw a spanner in the works, as could fellow komusubi
Toyonoshima. The former will have plenty to prove after he was passed over
for promotion to sekiwake despite a 10-5 mark.

Expect Kisenosato to put up a greater fight on the bales after stablemaster
Naruto laid into him in training last week. "You've got to think that the
edge of the ring is like the edge of a cliff," the former yokozuna said.

===

Rikishi Roundup

 Yokozuna Asashoryu

Age: 27, From: Mongolia

Height: 1.85 m, Weight: 152 kg

Previous rank, record: Yokozuna, 11-4.

Last tournament's rumble with Hakuho provides a nice little subtext to their
final day matchup, but some sumo watchers don't think the senior yokozuna
will make it that far.

He only got back to Japan the weekend before the banzuke was released and
looks flabby and out of shape. Add in injuries to his lower back and ankle,
and he could be out of contention before the second week.

Even so, writing off the owner of 22 Emperor's Cups is never a good idea--a
half-powered Asashoryu is still too much for most of the makuuchi division.

 Yokozuna Hakuho

Age: 23, From: Mongolia

Height: 1.92 m, Weight: 156 kg

Previous rank, record: Yokozuna, 11-4.

Training has gone well for Hakuho. Beating the same men who have been
dominating Asashoryu will have done the junior yokozuna's confidence no
harm, and he is reportedly free of the lower back injuries and leg problems
that have plagued him over the past two tournaments.

Asashoryu's poor showing in training and the likelihood of Kotooshu
retreating back into his shell make Hakuho the favorite in Nagoya. His hopes
for a seventh makuuchi division title will rely on him maintaining his
concentration until the final-day matchup with Asashoryu.

 Ozeki Kotooshu

Age: 25, From: Bulgaria

Height: 2.02 m, Weight: 155 kg

Previous rank, record: Ozeki, 14-1 (1st makuuchi division championship).

Asashoryu's drop in form could help 'Oshu's promotion run, but early losses
will scupper it.

 Ozeki Kaio

Age: 35, From: Fukuoka

Height: 1.85 m, Weight: 175 kg

Previous rank, record: Ozeki, 8-7.

While the Fukuoka native continues to tot up records for longevity, his only
other role is that of potential kingmaker.

 Ozeki Kotomitsuki

Age: 32, From: Aichi

Height: 1.81 m, Weight: 156 kg

Previous rank, record: Ozeki, 8-7.

Three straight 8-7 marks are not impressing anyone, but the word is that
'Mitsuki is benefiting from Kotooshu's new-found intensity.

@:

Ozeki Chiyotaikai

Age: 32, From: Oita

Height: 1.80 m, Weight: 152 kg

Previous rank, record: Ozeki, 5-10.

He's a record breaker, but not in a good way--this is the Kokonoe stable
veteran's 12th basho in danger of losing his rank.

@:

Sekiwake Ama Age 24, 1.85 m, 123 kg, Sekiwake, 9-6.

Another 9-6 record, another special prize. If Ama can break the 10-win
barrier here, he will set himself up nicely for a promotion push in
September. To do that, he really needs to work out Kaio (he is a career 5-8
against him) and take advantage of Asashoryu's troubles to make a statement.


 Sekiwake Kotoshogiku Age 24, 1.80 m, 162 kg, Sekiwake, 8-7.

Sadogatake stable's third-string wrestler has stabilized recently, although
two straight 8-7 records at sekiwake are hardly the stuff of which future
ozeki are made. If he can beat nemeses Kaio and Tokitenku, then securing his
rank before the final weekend should be a formality.

 Komusubi Kisenosato Age 21, 1.88 m, 170 kg, Komusubi, 10-5.

The Naruto stable man continues to gain weight--he has added nine kilograms
since March. No promotion despite 10 wins in May should inspire fireworks
here.

 Komusubi Toyonoshima Age 25, 1.69 m, 142 kg, No. 5 maegashira, 11-4.

A return to the sanyaku for the Tokitsukaze stable wrestler, who said he is
treating it like a fresh start. Probably best--his first basho at komusubi
went 4-11.

===

Rank-and-file roundup: Four new faces include Kokonoe man Chiyohakuho, who
could end the basho as the stable's top wrestler should Chiyotaikai retire.
Also reinforcing their stables' presence in the top division are Sakaizawa
stable's Masatsukasa and Kasugano's Kimurayama.
(Jul. 13, 2008)


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