The banzuke rankings for the summer basho in Tokyo are out, with Terunofuji returning to the rank of ozeki for the May tournament, the first days of which will be held behind closed doors.

Terunofuji’s comeback after dropping to the depths of the fifth division is a tale unparalleled in sumo history, writes John Gunning. Injuries should have spelt the end of Terunofuji’s career in 2018. Instead, thanks to his intense efforts — and a stubborn stablemaster — he is back at sumo’s second rank, and arguably the rikishi best placed for a shot at becoming the next yokozuna.

From wheelchair to ozeki: How Terunofuji won the cup | CHRIS SUMO
From wheelchair to ozeki: How Terunofuji won the cup | CHRIS SUMO

He’ll certainly give it a try, he says, taking inspiration from fellow comeback kids Rikako Ikee and Hideki Matsuyama.

The sole remaining yokozuna, Hakuho, is likely to miss the tourney after surgery on his right knee, although he still sits on top of the banzuke. For now, he also remains subject to a stern warning over repeated absences from competition.

Meanwhile, external advisors have delivered what can only be seen as a slap in the face for arguably the greatest rikishi ever, writes Gunning, in the form of a report that — if acted upon — could deny Hakuho the use of his ring name as a stablemaster.