Harumafuji seeks title sans top rivals
kyodo — Harumafuji will seek to win his ninth championship at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament starting Sunday as fellow yokozuna Hakuho, Kisenosato and Kakuryu have all pulled out due to injuries.
Harumafuji will be the only yokozuna competing at the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan after Hakuho withdrew on Friday due to pain in his left ankle.
Kakuryu and Kisenosato withdrew on Thursday.
Harumafuji, who was 11-4 in the Nagoya Basho, will be aiming for his first title since July 2016.
Although the Mongolian has been nursing pain in his elbows and knees that forced him to miss part of the summer regional tours, he is the only yokozuna with double-digit wins at three consecutive tournaments since Kisenosato was promoted in March.
Harumafuji said he does not feel pressed despite being the only yokozuna at this tourney.
“The results will be there if I do what I’m supposed to do. I will just try my best,” Harumafuji said after training at the Isegahama stable.
Nishonoseki, the Japan Sumo Association’s chief judge, said this basho will begin and end with Harumafuji, who will start his campaign against komusubi Tochiozan and Tochinoshin the second day.
The absence of the yokozuna trio will allow the lesser-ranked wrestlers a chance to capture the Emperor’s Cup, with ozeki Takayasu leading the way.