Yokozuna Hakuho said Tuesday he will take it one step at a time in next month’s Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo as he seeks his third straight Emperor’s Cup and an unprecedented 40th title overall.
“I will tackle it one bout at a time. People might think it’s something easy for me, but winning a championship is a lot of hard work,” the Mongolian yokozuna told reporters. “My goals right now are the 40th championship and getting 1,000 wins in makuuchi.”
At the previous tourney in Nagoya in July, Hakuho captured a record 39th career title while surpassing the late former yokozuna Chiyonofuji and former ozeki Kaio to climb atop the all-time bout wins list with 1,050 career wins, 956 of them in sumo’s elite makuuchi division.
But the 32-year-old expressed anxiety over recurring pain in his left knee that forced him to sit out part of the monthlong summer regional tour that ended Sunday.
“It hurts when I practice and it hurts when I rest too much. It’s intricate,” said Hakuho, who sat out most of the Autumn Basho two years ago due to a left knee injury.
He is scheduled to resume training on Wednesday to prepare for the the tourney at Ryogoku Kokugikan, which begins on Sept. 10. “I will just do what I’m able to do for now until the first day of the tournament.”
Meanwhile, fellow yokozuna Kisenosato, who missed part of the previous two meets in May and July due to injuries, said he will take his time to get himself fit enough to wrestle again.
“I’m not going to rush myself but will steadily prepare myself by doing what I have to do,” said the 31-year-old who injured his upper left arm and chest muscles toward the end of the Spring Basho in Osaka in March.
Two months later, he started the Summer Basho without fully recovering and sat out the last several days of the 15-day tourney, then withdrew on the sixth day of the Nagoya meet after injuring his left ankle.