Hooray for Harumafuji

September 25, 2017

This month’s aki basho sumo tournament in Tokyo looked as though it would be an underwhelming yawner in the early days. Three of the four grand champion yokozuna pulled themselves out due to injury, followed shortly thereafter by two of the three ozeki (Takayasu and Terunofuji).

With yokozuna Harumafuji and ozeki has-been Goeido as the only championship-caliber rikishi standing, some fans placed hopes that some of the younger up-and-comers would enter the limelight. A few youngsters did indicate signs of potential — notably Takakeisho, Onosho, and Asanoyama — but also underscored the value of experience.

Experienced Harumafuji revealed that he was not at 100%, dropping three of the first five matches to junior wrestlers. Despite clearly ailing, this honorable yokozuna admirably committed himself to play out the tournament in an effort to keep it remotely interesting for the fans.

Harumafuji over-delivered on his promise. He won just enough bouts to remain mathematically in the trophy hunt, keeping pressure on the nearly undefeated Goeido into the final stretch. Then, what do you know, Goeido stumbles a bit, and suddenly we find ourselves in the final day of the tournament with Goeido facing Harumafuji and the championship still up for grabs.

Harumafuji beats Goeido with typical yokozuna dominance in the final regulation match, thus tying their records and forcing a playoff tie-breaker.

The playoff match left even less doubt. Harumafuji pushed out Goeido with a quick yorikiri and climbed through a back window into his 9th sumo championship.

I’ve been a fan of Harumafuji since way back in the early days when he was known as Ama. In many ways he strikes me as one of the most entrepreneurial sumo wrestlers. As one of the lightest, he must leverage his agility and resourcefulness to overcome his weight disadvantage. His back-to-back victories over Goeido on the final day also relied on a strong tachi-ai, the initial charge in a sumo bout, must like a startup needs to hit the ground running.

Hooray for Harumafuji ! よくできました。

tags: , ,
posted in sumo by mark bivens

Follow comments via the RSS Feed | Leave a comment | Trackback URL

Visit Us On TwitterCheck Our Feed