Sumo

Kisenosato's stablemaster says embattled yokozuna will keep fighting

Kyodo

Despite equaling the record for the worst losing streak by a yokozuna, Kisenosato will compete on Day 3 of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, according to his stablemaster.

Asked by reporters if the 32-year-old yokozuna would fight on Tuesday, stablemaster Tagonoura answered, “Yes, of course. That is the plan.”

“His sumo is disjointed, but that’s fixable,” he said.

On the second day of the 15-day tourney, Kisenosato attacked from the start against No. 1 maegashira Ichinojo, but lacked the lower-body strength to force him out and was defenseless when his opponent turned the tables on him.

“He needs to regain the attitude that got him this far,” Japan Sumo Association President Hakkaku said. “If he wins, that feeling will change.”

The loss was Kisenosato’s seventh straight, not counting his forfeit on Day 5 of November’s Kyushu tourney. This tied the worst run for a yokozuna since the 15-day grand tournament format began with the 1949 Summer Basho.

“He overcame pressure to become a yokozuna,” said the chief judge, sumo elder Fujishima. “This is make or break.”

Although further losses will increase calls for Kisenosato’s retirement, Tagonoura said his champion is not done.

“It’s still early days,” the stablemaster said. “There’s time left. I just want him to find himself and deliver his brand of sumo.”

Kisenosato was promoted to sumo’s highest rank after winning his maiden championship in January 2017. He was injured en route to a come-from-behind championship two months later. However, he has failed to complete nine of the last 10 tournaments due to struggles with injuries.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5