Hatsu Basho Summary
Text by Lon Howard
Photos by Carolyn Todd
|which the jun-yusho went to a hiramaku rikishi so the
remarks by the Rijicho with respect to the ozeki group – in and of
themselves – are well taken. The hiramaku surprise this time was
the stubby M9 Toyonoshima, who didn’t give up the yusho hunt until the
14th day, when he was upended by M4 Ama. Then, on senshuraku, as
if to underline that his feat was no fluke, he embarrassed
sekiwake Kotomitsuki by twirling him around and dumping him by
katasukashi. His 12-3 record was all the more astounding when you
consider that he has posted nine wins only once before in his makuuchi
career. Since he’ll be at the top of the maegashira ranks in
March, I’m afraid just six wins would be impressive enough; although I
sense that his sumo has improved due to added weight and stability, and
a more aggressive attitude on the dohyo.
Speaking of those maligned ozeki, there were Hakuho and Chiyotaikai with 10-5, Kotooshu 9-6, Kaio winning on the last two days to escape kadoban at 8-7, and Tochiazuma gamely but foolishly struggling to the end at 5-10. Hakuho looks like sumo’s second best but still looks flummoxed at times when he’s
|Asashoryu’s 20th yusho in the 2007 Hatsu basho made a big impression on some important people but it wasn’t the kind you might have expected. In Ozumo, a yokozuna’s 20th yusho is usually a conversation-ender, removing all doubt that the man is a dai-yokozuna, an honorific reserved for a magnificent few. Not this time. All four living men with this cachet had something to say about it after the yokozuna clinched the title on day 14 (active names used here). Takanohana was merely tepid, citing his vigor and flexibility but Taiho said fulfilling a yokozuna’s responsibility was more important than the number of yusho, adding that his training had slackened and that he needed to grow spiritually. Chiyonofuji implied more dedication was needed, while Kitanoumi Rijicho said that under current circumstances, 20 yusho were meaningless because of the awful state of the ozeki contingent. The passkey to the Dai Y Club is not yet en route to Takasago Beya, and was probably put||deeper into storage when
the yokozuna failed to bow to M1 Dejima after suffering his only loss
of the basho on Day 3.
That – on this special occasion – these icons were more intent on citing Asashoryu’s shortcomings than on praising him is very instructive. These missives hit the street as soon as yusho #20 was in the bag on Day 14, so you know the reporters who asked the questions and the four men who answered them had flagged this moment beforehand, and had ample time to prepare their questions and answers. Chiyonofuji added that Asashoryu might eventually claim 50 yusho. A blow-up of sumo records of that proportion could re-cast the legacies of all prior dai-yokozuna. It appears those men now believe that outcome is entirely possible.
This was Asashoryu’s 4th consecutive yusho and the 13th time he’s clinched the Emperor’s Cup prior to senshuraku. It’s also the 3rd straight basho in