Sekiwake Terunofuji has become the 2021 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament champion after beating Ozeki Takakeisho with oshidashi on the final day of proceedings. As a result, the Mongolian-born wrestler will return to the prestigious rank of Ozeki as of the forthcoming May banzuke ranking list.
Terunofuji began his basho campaign in style, ending day 4 with a perfect 4:0 win record – a result matched only by the fantastic start of Maegashira #4 wrestler Myogiryu, who also won his first four bouts. However, Terunofuji’s win streak came to an abrupt halt, suffering a shock upset to Maegashira #1 Onosho on day 5, resulting in Myogiryu taking top spot on the leader board with a spectacular 5:0 score. Terunofuji would go on to win his days 6 and 7 contests, yet following two further defeats to Komusubi Takayasu and Maegashira #3 Shimanoumi on days 8 and 10 respectively, the Sekiwake fighter was displaced as yusho favourite by the superior form of Takayasu. Despite this, Takayasu’s reign quickly fell to pieces, losing three consecutive fights to Maegashira trio Wakatakakage (#2), Tobizaru (#8) and Aoiyama (#12). This was a heart-rendering finale for the Komusubi, who otherwise showcased stellar performances throughout. Takayasu finished his stint in the tournament with 10:5, while the ‘comeback King’ Terunofuji claimed his third career yusho and shukun- sho (outstanding performance award) boasting a staggering 12:3 record.
“I’m relieved” said Terunofuji in a post-match interview:
“I was just taking it one day at a time (in my comeback), training hard every day. Doing so, I believed this day would come, so I’m really happy…”
“…I focused on being confident in the ring today, and that was my main thing. Sumo doesn’t always go the way you want it to…”
“…Without the support of the fans I wouldn’t be standing here today. That support made it possible. Wrestlers train hard and fight hard, and that’s one way we can show our appreciation for that support.”Terunofuji March 2021
Terunofuji wasn’t alone in finding his name on silverware this month; winning the respectable kanto-sho (fighting spirit prize) were Maegashira #12 Aoiyama and #3 Meisei, while the gino-sho (technique prize) was claimed by the higher ranked Maegashira #2 Wakatakakage. The three found their first double digit finishes since the start of the year; Aoiyama replicated his 2020 March Basho score of 11:4, while Meisei and Wakatakakage both achieved 10:5.
Further Basho success was found by two Ozeki wrestlers, Asanoyama and Takakeisho, ending their March campaigns with 10:5. The Sekitori brothers, Tobizaru and Hidenoumi, also left the dohyo with just five losses, with the latter taking part in what was his first Makuuchi competition since March 2018! With the next basho beginning in just two months’ time, fans won’t have to wait long before witnessing even more sumo drama. Can Terunofuji repeat his outstanding run in the upcoming event, or will the May Ozeki be challenged by the prowess of his fellow competitors? We can’t wait to find out!