On Monday, the day that the sumo rankings would normally have been announced by the Japan Sumo Association, lone yokozuna Hakuho cut a forlorn figure as he made his final preparations for a “test meet” beginning in two weeks.
After the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament was called off in the wake of a match-fixing scandal, the Mongolian said he has mixed feelings about the May 8-22 Tokyo meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan, which will not be considered an official tournament.
“I, more than anyone else (of the active wrestlers), have the experience and feel the weight of winning the Emperor’s Cup and claiming titles. This is very emotional,” Hakuho said at a press conference at the Miyagino stable in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.
Although the results for the 15-day meet will count toward drafting the banzuke for the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in July, Hakuho is feeling less than motivated about his bid to match former yokozuna Asashoryu for a record seventh consecutive title.
Hakuho is haunted with flashbacks of the time when he broke down in tears after winning the Nagoya tourney last July, and had to settle for not receiving the Emperor’s Cup following a gambling scandal that linked gangsters to the ancient sport.
“I never thought we would see another meet like that one (last year), but here we are again. If I win the title, I’ll definitely cry, so maybe I shouldn’t win it,” he said, in half jest.