Konishiki announces decision to leave behind sumo's ruling body
Former ozeki Konishiki, who after retirement has been going by the name of Sanoyama, spoke before the press Sept.28 that he is leaving the Japan Sumo Association at the end of this month. He explains that he would like to be involved with more activities to help improve relationship between Japan and Hawaii through children. He is setting up a charity to support the poor kids of Hawaii too. Also, he would like to visit more frequently his ailing mother in Hawaii. At the moment, he finds himself too tied up with activities involving sumo. Even though he is an oyakata, he is not actually running a stable, but is only one of the retired rikishi. His authority in the sumo world is quite limited. On the other hand, as a TV personality, the former Konishiki is attracting lots of attention with his charm. He is, indeed, one of the most loved characters on TV commercials. However, as long as he works for the Japan Sumo Association, he does not have the freedom to make his own choice of other jobs offered. Therefore, he decided to move on with life as a new person free from obligations from the sumo world.
EMPEROR'S CUP WINNER: TAKANOHANA
Fighting Spirit Award: none
Outstanding Performance Award: Kotonowaka
Outstanding Technique Award: Chiyotaikai
Chiyotaiki was beaten by Takanonami to an underarm throw. Still, with a record of 9 wins 6 losses, the sekiwake was awarded for his techniques. The bouts everyone was waiting for were fixed at the end. Musashimaru's expression was fierce as he prepared for the bout against Wakanohana. As the bout took off, Maru rushed towards to yokozuna just like he did at Takanohana the day before. Maru shoved Waka quickly out of the ring. In the very last bout, Akebono and Takanohana faced eachother. Takanohana, as he went through the purification ceremony appeared confident and determined to win the bout. As the time came to take off to fight, Akebono was slightly behind Taka. Taka immediately got under Akebono, gaining a better position. Taka aimed to grab Akebono's belt at the front a couple of times, and walked the tallest rikishi out of the ring. Takanohana clinched the Emperor's Cup for the 20th time.
Michiyo's Note: Many fans were cheering for Wakanohana this time. The main reason, no doubt, had to do with Takanohana's denunciation of his elder brother. This adverse relationship has been covered by TV gossip shows every single day during the tournament. It was well known that Takanohana used to respect and love his brother very much. But in recent years Taka has been ignoring Waka. First, they have a different concept of the role of a yokozuna. Taka believes a yokozuna must live up to the godly status at all times, whereas Wakanohana does not want the title of yokozuna to interfere with his whole life. Waka says that one can stay a yokozuna for a limited number of years. Secondly, a man who has been treating Takanohana's physique for sometime now has also been giving him all kinds of advice. Many believe he was brainwashing the yokozuna with his philosophy.
There was possibility Takanohana's tourney victory would be decided this day if he won and his elder brother lost. What happened was the other way around. Takanohana, to everyone's surprise was beaten quickly by Musashimaru. Maru got his hand around Taka's right side. As he pushed forward, his other arm got to Taka's back and drove the yokozuna out of the ring. In the next bout, Akebono attacked Wakanohana's face with both his hands. Waka slightly moved back, but immediately pushed Akebono. It was such a powerful shove that Akebono fell down. The results have tied Taka and Waka for first place with 12 wins 2 losses each. The makuuchi bouts were held in front of a sellout crowd. By the way, it was confirmed that the former Konishiki--the current Sanoyama will leave the Japan Sumo Association. He actually submitted a piece of paper indicating so to the chairman the day before. The chairman refused to accept it, saying Sanoyama must discuss the situation with his stable master Takasago. It was reported on Sept. 26, that after the 15-day autumn tourney is over, Sanoyama will formerly make an announcement of the decision.
A note of a rikishi in the 3rd highest division of makushita. Takeuchi marked a perfect 7-0 record for a victory in the division. It's actually his 2nd straight makushita title. Since his debut in sumo--he has a perfect record of 14 wins. He was given a special status of makushita as a newcomer to the professional sumo world. That's because his experience as an amateur sumo wrestler was taken into account. Takeuchi belongs to the Musashibawa beya--that's with Musoyama and Musashimaru. Now for the Emperor's Cup competition in the highest division. Wakanohana raced toward Tochinonada. Tochinonada, however, moved away to the side, and Waka could not stop, but race out of the ring. Wakanohana had to take his 2nd loss. Meanwhile, Takanohana beat Chiyotaikai to become the sole leader.
Terao defeated Kotonishiki in a quick sumo of thrusts and shoves for his 8th win. Kotonishiki is down to 5 wins 7 losses. For Terao the majority win means he does not have to think about retirement, because his place in the makuuchi division was secured. The 2 Hawaiian borns were matched up. Akebono pushed while Musashimaru tried to keep his head down. Then Akebono reversed the action by pulling Maru toward him, and that strategy was effective. The other 2 yokozuna won their bouts to improve their records to 11 wins 1 loss. Akebono is the only one with 3 losses.
Takanohana easily drove out Mongolian Kyokushuzan. Wakanohana was attacked ferociously by Chiyotaikai, But Waka confronted him fearlessly. In the end, Waka, with his left hand knocked Chiyo down. The final bout was fought between Akebono and ozeki Takanonami. The yokozuna had no problem thrusting the ozeki out for his 8th win. So Waka and Taka still are on top with 10 wins 1 loss each.
Minatofuji won his first bout this tourney taking down Asahiyutaka with his arm. The 2 ozeki could not start the first time because Takanonami was too fast--or rather, perhaps Maru was too slow. Anyway, in the valid take off, Maru reached out for Takanonami's throat and hugged his body--eventually taking him out. Musashimaru improved his record to 7 wins 3 losses while Takanonami is down to 6 wins 4 losses. Akebono showed his style with thrusts one after another. His attacks seemed one-sided until Tamakasuga, while withstanding them on the edge of the ring pushed the yokozuna to the side. Akebono just walked out. Because Akebono was beaten--there is no one with 2 losses. Wakanohana and Takanohana both collected another win for the lead.
It's the first time Wakanosato challenged Musashimaru. The Hawaiian born ozeki immediately got a firm grip of his opponent's belt. But the situation was reversed and Maru was taken out. Chiyotaikai showed fearless aggression toward Akebono. Chiyo gave thrusts, and in the end-- with his right hand threw the giant yokozuna out of the ring. So the tourney leaders have been narrowed down to the Waka and Taka brothers. They are followed by Akebono who had his 2nd loss.
Terao is in good shape. He clinched his 6th win by thrusting down Gojoro. Both ozeki, unfortunately faced defeat. Takatoriki moved forward as he thrusted and shoved Maru finally out of the ring. Takanonami pulled back while Aogiyama stretched his arm out to the ozeki's throat. All 3 yokozuna won their bouts. So now there are 3 with 1 loss and 2 with 2 losses.
For the first time this tourney the Kokugikan attracted a sellout crowd. Aogiyama appeared to be targetting Wakanohana's throat throughout the bout. Waka withstood those attacks and took Aogiyama down by the back of his neck. The bout that appealed most to the fans, no doubt, was the one between Akebono and Takatoriki. The 2 rikishi was over cautious about who might touch the ground with both hands to take off. Akebono, actually, got so impatient, he stood up to restart the bout. In the 2nd try for a start, Akebono was already in action as he touched the ground, so the bout had to be done again. At last, the bout was valid. Akebono threw Takatoriki down by holding on to the back of his belt. All in all, the champion class rikishi all won. 4 are now tied for the Emperor's Cup.
For Chiyotaikai, the lost this day to Musoyama meant his 3rd in a row. Chiyo was powerless. He fell into the audience. Takanohana had a tough time fighting Asahiyutaka, but in the end won. There were no upsets this day. 5 rikishi tie for 1st place with a loss each.
The young Tochiazuma at last won his first bout this tourney by defeating Chiyotaikai. So did Kotonishiki against Tochinowaka. Musashimaru had a tough time. He and Kaio both attempted to grip eachother's belt. After struggling for 2 minutes 30 seconds, the ozeki finally was able to walk out the maegashira number 1 ranking man. Wakanohana was matched with the tall Kotonowaka. Their arms crossed as they held on to eachother's belt--trying to force eachother out side by side. But Kotonowaka's power got Wakanohana's left foot slightly slipping out of the ring. Waka had to take his first loss, tying him with the other 2 yokozuna and Maru.
Ozeki Takanonami succumbed to his second loss. He was beaten by Kaio who defeated Takanohana the day before. Kaio attacked Takanonami's throat with his left hand. That one hand overpowered the tall ozeki. It appeared that Asahifuji was imitating Kaio by reaching for Wakanohana's throat. However, Asahifuji and the yokozuna both lost balance on the edge of the ring. What made a difference was that Wakanohana's right leg remained within the ring. Wakanohana, therefore, extended his perfect record. The other 2 yokozuna defeated their opponents as did the overweight Musashimaru.
On Japan's national holiday, Respect for the Aged Day, there were again upsets. First, the Hawaiian born Musashimaru was driven down by Asahiyutaka. Kaio, who is set to marry a former pro wrestler soon, faced Takanohana. He hugged the yokozuna with all his might and took him out. Takanonami and Akebono both won. Wakanohana is the only champion class wrestler with 3 wins. He kept his record perfect by slapping and pulling down the up and coming Dejima.
Terao defeated new makuuchi rikishi, Tokitsuumi by tackling his leg. Mongolian Kyokushuzan also won for the first time. He forced Kotonishiki down on the rim of the ring. Takanonami became the first champion ranking rikishi to lose. He clashed against Kotonowaka, slipped in front of him and was take out. Kotonowaka, by the way has changed one of his characters in his name. The "no" is not a hiragana anymore. Yokozuna Akebono took off to a slow start. This gave Dejima the chance to bang into the yokozuna. That shove effectively drove Akebono out of the ring. So on the 2nd day, there are already 1 ozeki and 1 yokozuna with a loss each.
The crown prince and princess attended the tourney together and watched all of the makuuchi bouts with not quite a full crowd. From this day, the Japan Sumo Association strictly requires all sumo wrestlers to clearly touch the ground, just before taking off to fight against eachother. The first to fight in the highest division was Terao. He, however, lost his balance when he tried to duck into Toki's body. Kotonishiki, who was out from the 2nd day of last tourney showed up. He started by thrusting Mitoizumi. Mitoizumi patiently withstood, then carried Kotonishiki up like a kid a couple of times, and finally drove him out. Kotonowaka immediately got hold of Musashimaru's belt in a position good for him. Maru could not take action, except prevent himself from being pushed out the ring. In the final seconds of the bout which lasted 2.02 minutes, Maru successfully walked out Kotonowaka. All yokozuna had victorious bouts.
Pre Tourney highlights
Waka celebrates his yokozuna status
On Sept. 1, a grand party was held in Tokyo's Hotel New Otani to celebrate Wakanohana's promotion to yokozuna. He already fought the previous grand tourney as the grand champion. All yokozuna and ozeki attended the party, as well as celebrities such as former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, soccer star and Waka's close friend Kazu Miura, and speedskating Olympic champion Hiroyasu Shimizu. There were in all, approximately 1000 guests. Takanohana, however, did not appear too happy for his older brother. He apparently did not congratulate Waka on his special day. Taka's attitude toward Waka, this time, and several times recently has developed speculations that the two were not as brotherly as they used to be.
Terao is listed last in the makuuchi division
All time popular rikishi Terao is for the first time ranked in the bottom of the makuuchi division. It is only if he earns a majority win that he will secure his place in the top division. It is doubtful he will continue sumo in the 2nd division of juryo.
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