March 2021: Days 1-3

Yokozuna Hakuho withdraws, Sekiwake and Maegashira lead the way!

Hakuho withdraws form the March meet after sustaining a knee injury

It has been a dramatic start for many of the rikishi at the 2021 Spring Grand Sumo tournament, hosted once again at the Kokugikan arena in Tokyo. Not only have fans witnessed upsets from their favourite wrestlers, but have also received the shocking news that Basho favourite, Yokozuna Hakuho, has withdrawn from the March event, due to a right knee injury.

After being absent from Makuuchi division competitions since the 2020 July Basho, East Yokozuna Hakuho had his hopes set on a returning victory to the professional sumo world. However, it was not to be for the Mongolian-born wrestler, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament before the third day of proceedings could take place. Hakuho is set to have surgery later this month on his right knee, suffering a damaged right patella and swelling around the joint.

Hakuho’s stablemaster, Miyagino, suggests that the Yokozuna’s career hangs in the balance, and that the 2021 July Basho could be Hakuho’s final competition as a professional sumo wrestler,

“He was told (by a doctor) that he couldn’t wrestle in his current condition. He said he will make his final decision at the Nagoya tournament (in July)” – Miyagino.

Yokozuna absence leaves the Yūshō open for contention.

Following Hakuho’s withdrawal, the baton falls to the leading Sekiwake and Maegashira fighters to lead the charge for the Yūshō. Tied at three wins to zero losses, Terunofuji (Sekiwake), Myogiryu (Maegashira #4) and Ichinojo (Maegashira #6) are all currently topping the scorecard.

Terunofuji, a wrestler with much prestige, will no doubt be eyeing up the March Yūshō, in an attempt to claim his third career Makuuchi Division Championships title. Having defeated the 2020 January Basho champion – the now Komusubi ranked wrestler, Daieisho – with a strong yoritaoshi kimarite (frontal crush out – winning technique) earlier today, Terunofuji looks to be in spectacular form heading into Day 4 of the tournament.

Looking to mount a challenge to Terunofuji’s pursuit for the Yūshō, is Myogiryu. He looks to win his first ever Makuuchi division championship in this March tournament. The Hyogo Pref. born wrestler has a favourable chance to further his 3:0 winning streak, facing off tomorrow against the lower ranked Maegashira #6 wrestler, Tamawashi. A win in the fourth day of events would help build Myogiryu’s confidence heading towards the latter stages of the competition, wherein the Maegashira #4 competitor will face some of the toughest fighters in sumo history.

Despite being the lowest ranked wrestler with a spotless 3:0 record so far in the event, Ichinojo appears to be far from lacking in his performances. With confident victories over Tochinoshin and Kagayaki, as well as his superior Maegashira #5 ranked competitor, Okinoumi, Ichinojo appears to be a growing threat. If Ichinojo can clinch a win against the struggling Endo in tomorrow’s bout, then Ichinojo could be well on his way to competing for the Yūshō.

As we enter into Day 4 of the Spring Grand Sumo Event, avid fans will be keeping a keen eye out for further drama in the bouts to come. Will Terunofuji, Myogiryu and Ichinojo be able to carry on their electrifying form, or will other competitors arise to challenge them – we shall have to wait and see!

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