Kyushu Basho Summary
by Lon Howard
that, the one-loss rikishi also slipped from view…first Kotomitsuki on
day 9, and then the next day Chiyotaikai, Kaio and fellow ozeki
Tochiazuma, along with the resurgent M6 Baruto. At that point,
only the upstart M11 Homasho remained at one loss, and he was
overwhelmed by Tochiazuma on day 12. In terms of yusho intrigue,
the party was over after 12 days, and that’s stretching
Kainowaka ushers in Kaio
Just as he had done in September, Asashoryu claimed the yusho on the basho’s 14th day. There was a modest scare on senshuraku against Chiyotaikai, as the ozeki bolted from the blocks and shoved him back to the edge…but like the first two days, the yokozuna was too strong, too nimble, and just too much on top of his game to be pushed out. He twisted to the side and lifted Chiyo up and around almost in one motion, at which point the ozeki gave it up and gingerly backed out of the circle.
Watching the four competing ozeki vainly trying to keep pace
fans look back at what was most important about the Kyushu 2006 basho,
they probably won’t settle on yokozuna Asashoryu’s 19th yusho or his
5th zensho yusho, or even his 1st ketaguri (see Eric Blair’s piece this
issue). They’ll probably say, “Wasn’t that when Shoes-on went
intai?” And then they’ll recall their vision of Kyokushuzan
rising to his feet during that intai announcement and giving a deep bow
to his shisho, Oshima Oyakata – reportedly something that had never
happened. If that choked a few folks up, what will the
dampatsu-shiki be like? Unknown to almost everyone, the one
called the patriarch of the Mongolian rikishi had been weathering a
weak heart that made him lethargic. I cited this low energy level
in the Aki summary, and now we know the truth. He made just one
appearance on the dohyo in Kyushu before making the announcement that
his health was in danger, and there was no choice but to retire.
It was shocking news to everyone, but the show had to go on.
As for the basho itself – to be blunt about it, there wasn’t a lot of anticipation on opening day. Ozeki Hakuho had apparently recovered from his bruised right knee suffered on shonichi of Aki basho and was expected to begin another tsunatori run, challenging yokozuna Asashoryu for the yusho in the process. But
a weird training accident several days before the basho’s start, he
fractured his left big toe while stair-climbing, resulting in what was
described as light surgery. With his toe in a cast, he was forced
to withdraw, which seemed to offer the Emperor’s Cup on a silver
platter to Asashoryu right from the start.
As has been customary since the yokozuna began ruling the sumo roost, during the first few days of the basho, fans looked for signs that he might be vulnerable this time out. Those who wanted to see such signs probably felt encouraged after the first two days, as he allowed Roho to spin him around on day 1, and then went for a near-fatal maki-kai against Futeno on day 2, which got him backed against the tawara. But, as is usually the case, his extraordinary balance, strength and timing brought him back from the brink both times and, after that iffy beginning, for the rest of the basho, he dispatched his daily opposition with the ease of someone checking items off a shopping list.
Although several other rikishi remained unbeaten during the first week, there simply was never any suspense about the yusho. One by one, the other undefeated challengers peeled away like dancers from a chorus line…ozeki Chiyotaikai on day 7, sekiwake Kotomitsuki on day 8, ozeki Kaio on day 9.