Yokozuna council gives Hakuho’s spring performance mixed review

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho received high marks from the Japan Sumo Association’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council on Monday for his record 36th grand tournament championship, although the praise was muted by disappointment over an incident involving the Mongolian.

A day after Hakuho won the 15-day Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, the council met at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, where there was criticism of the yokozuna’s excessive force after the conclusion of his match on March 20. After forcing out sekiwake Yoshikaze in a brutal, hard-hitting match, Hakuho sent his opponent flying from the ring and into a ringside judge, who suffered a broken leg.

Hakuho received a verbal warning during the tournament over his “dameoshi” shove and apologized for his actions.

“For a great yokozuna, it was unsightly,” said Torao Oshima, the acting council chair, who also mentioned Hakuho’s final-day victory, when he evaded the charge of rival yokozuna Harumafuji to seal the championship and received a somewhat lukewarm response from the fans in Osaka.

“I think his (Hakuho’s) technique was something different from deliberately tricking his opponent with a dodge.”

Hakuho’s victory spelled the end of veteran ozeki Kisenosato’s hopes of winning his first championship. Although he won 13 of his 15 bouts, Kisenosato was not nominated as a candidate for promotion to yokozuna in May.

“Although he is now first on the list of ozeki aiming for yokozuna promotion, it will be difficult without his winning a championship,” Oshima said.