Kotoshogiku hopes to shine; focus on Asa

Kyodo News

Kotoshogiku will be looking to move into the spotlight while Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu will be very much under the microscope at next month’s Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photoAsashoryu will come under scrutiny at the spring basho after recent allegations from a tabloid that the Mongolian had rigged bouts.

Kotoshogiku put together a solid 9-6 record at the New Year meet and will be the new sekiwake on the block as the Japan Sumo Association on Monday announced the rankings for the March 11-25 meet at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

The 23-year-old will be the first new face at sumo’s third rank in nine tournaments, while Mongolian Tokitenku gets his chance to show what he is capable of on his komusubi debut after winning promotion from No. 2 maegashira courtesy of an 8-7 mark in January.

But it is Tokitenku’s countryman Asashoryu who will once again be the center of attention as he looks to try to repair the tarnished image of Japan’s national sport, which has been rocked to the core by recent match-fixing allegations.

The JSA and 17 wrestlers including Asashoryu filed a lawsuit on Friday against a magazine publisher seeking 480 million yen in damages for defaming them in articles which claimed they had been rigging bouts.

Just days after Asashoryu had captured his 22nd Emperor’s Cup in January, the Shukan Gendai tabloid-style weekly magazine claimed he had paid other wrestlers to lose at the Kyushu meet last November.

And the Mongolian, who will be wrestling as a lone yokozuna for the 20th tournament in a row, will be eager to show it is nothing more than fiery determination and brute strength that has put him among sumo’s all-time greats.

Elsewhere, Hakuho returns to the east side ozeki slot while Chiyotakai will be wrestling in his 49th tournament as an ozeki, one shy of the record set by yokozuna great Takanohana.