Injured yokozuna Kisenosato to miss start of upcoming regional tour

Kyodo

Injury-plagued yokozuna Kisenosato, who has failed to start or complete nine of the last 10 tournaments, will sit out the start of the winter regional tour which kicks off this weekend, his stablemaster Tagonoura said Wednesday.

According to Tagonoura, Kisenosato, the first Japan-born wrestler in 19 years to be promoted to the rank of yokozuna, could rejoin his fellow wrestlers for the last three days of the tour, which runs Dec. 2-22, when it moves into the Kanto region.

“Considering his condition, the first half doesn’t seem realistic. I can’t say for sure when (he will return),” Tagonoura said.

When asked about the likelihood of the 32-year-old Kisenosato recovering before the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, which gets under way Jan. 13 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tagonoura said it is too early to say.

“He shouldn’t compete half-heartedly. There are things he needs to do first,” he said.

At the recent Kyushu meet, Kisenosato became the first yokozuna in 87 years to get off to an 0-4 start to a basho, triggering the yokozuna council to issue a notice to show its dissatisfaction with his performance.

Kisenosato withdrew on the fifth day citing a knee injury. He has only completed one full tournament since becoming the 72nd yokozuna in sumo history in January 2017.

After missing eight straight meets, the most ever by a yokozuna, Kisenosato, who has struggled to shake nagging injuries to his knee and ankle, as well as his chest and arm muscles, finished with a 10-5 record at the September tournament to temporarily fend off calls for his retirement.

Also, stablemaster Izutsu revealed that Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu, who missed all 15 days of the Kyushu tournament because of ankle pain, will miss the first part of the regional tour, a promotional activity in which wrestlers visit communities where they hold open training sessions and exhibition bouts.