And then there were none — or, looking at it another way, three. Hakuho has withdrawn from the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament with a right knee injury, leaving the basho without a yokozuna following Kakuryu’s no-show. Which means that the three ozeki — who all ended Tuesday with 2-1 records — again find themselves under the spotlight.
With the passing of Tochinoumi in January, there are now just 15 surviving active or retired yokozuna. How many can you name off the bat?
To jog your memory, John Gunning offers some fun facts about the 13 living former yokozuna. Can you match the descriptions below with the giants of sumo listed underneath? Click here to check your answers:
- Upon becoming Japan Sumo Association Chairman, the 57th yokozuna instituted a strict “two hands down” policy that resulted in endless false starts and chaos in the ring during the 2008 autumn tournament.
- Sumo’s glass ceiling was finally broken in 1993 when the 64th yokozuna became the first foreigner to be promoted to the sport’s highest rank.
- The 66th yokozuna attempted to forge a second career in the NFL. While a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons didn’t lead to a contract, he did have stints in Japan’s X League and with an Arena Football team in the U.S.
- The 68th yokozuna was the first not to hail from the U.S. or Japan. A tightly wound ball of rage, he dominated opponents both physically and mentally.
- The 70th yokozuna is an accomplished painter. While active he even had a series of works exhibited at a gallery in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district.
Da yokozuna (alphabetical order): Akebono, Asashoryu, Harumafuji, Mienoumi, Wakanohana (III)