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New Year Grand Sumo Tournament champion Daieisho will return to sumo’s elite ranks for the upcoming March basho, which kicks off Sunday. The 27-year-old, who went 13-2 in January as a top-ranked maegashira to capture his first grand tournament, will compete in Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan as one of three komusubi wrestlers.

In yokozuna news, Kakuryu — whose career is on the line after withdrawing from four straight tournaments due to injury — is set to make his long-awaited return to the Kokugikan dohyō. Or is he? Days after saying he would compete, his stablemaster warned Thursday that the Mongolian-born grand champion may have to withdraw yet again, this time because of a left leg injury.

Fellow grand champ Hakuho, meanwhile, is on course to become just the second man in sumo history to reach 100 tournaments in the top division, after missing the last basho due to a brush with COVID-19.

Hakuho | GRAND SUMO [MARCH 2020] | NHK WORLD-JAPAN
Hakuho | GRAND SUMO [MARCH 2020] | NHK WORLD-JAPAN

Hakuho is arguably the greatest rikishi in the history of sumo inside the ring. Everyone knows that, right? But thanks to the Hakuho Cup, he may become one of the most significant outside it as well, writes John Gunning.

Although the most recent edition had to be canceled due to COVID-19, the Hakuho Cup has grown into one of the most important sumo tourneys in the world for primary-age kids, regularly drawing 1,000-plus young rikishi from Japan and overseas. In the early days, however, things were more haphazard.

Hakuho also had a major hand in bringing sumo back to devastated Tohoku in the wake of 3/11. Heartbroken to hear the dohyō in one Iwate town had been swept away in the tsunami, he contributed his own money to help rebuild it. And he didn’t stop there. Now that’s a yokozuna.

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