Kisenosato says he’s determined to regain form

Kyodo

Yokozuna Kisenosato said Saturday he is determined to regain his form after pulling out from five consecutive grand sumo tournaments due to injuries.

“I will concentrate on preparing myself with a strong will,” the 31-year-old said at a Japanese traditional bean-throwing event.

Kisenosato made his yokozuna debut at the 2017 Spring Basho as the first Japan-born grand champion since Wakanohana in 1998. However, he has missed all or part of the last five meets since coming from behind to win last March with a 13-2 record.

He withdrew from last month’s New Year tourney after aggravating the injury to the left side of his chest he suffered last March. The yokozuna has been stating that whether he continues his career or not depends on the outcome of the next basho in which he competes.

The Tagonoura stable wrestler has been criticized for repeatedly rushing his return to the ring before he achieved full fitness. On Saturday, he said he has not decided whether he will participate in the Spring Basho in Osaka, which begins on March 11.

“I want to make a cool-headed decision about that,” he said.

About 45,000 people gathered to watch the annual event where sumo wrestlers and celebrities fling roasted beans to symbolically drive away demons at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple.

“I didn’t think I would return here like this,” Kisenosato said. “I want to try my best so my fans would support me.”

Yokozuna Hakuho said he is not yet in perfect shape after pulling out of the January meet with injuries to both big toes.

“My right toe is a lot better but the left one isn’t yet,” said Hakuho, who holds the all-time record for sumo championships.

The injuries forced Hakuho to give up his chance to win back-to-back tournaments in January. Fellow Mongolian Kakuryu was the only yokozuna who completed the meet. But he finished with an 11-4 record, three wins behind Georgian No. 3 maegashira Tochinoshin, who clinched his first career victory.

Kakuryu, who held the sole lead with a perfect record through 10 days, had surgery on his left ankle on Thursday, the head of his Izutsu stable revealed Saturday. According to stablemaster Izutsu, the yokozuna began feeling pain toward the end of the tournament and had loose cartilage cleaned out in an area from the ankle to the instep.