Terunofuji wins fourth Makuuchi Division title
Ozeki Terunofuji has officially won the 2021 May basho, claiming his fourth career yusho in the prestigious Makuuchi Division. The Ozeki is the second most decorated active sumo wrestler behind the legendary Yokuzuna Hakuho, who missed the tournament due to receiving knee surgery two months ago.
Terunofuji looked in dominating form throughout the basho, boasting 10 wins after the first 10 days of fighting. However, the Ozeki suffered a shock and controversial upset to Maegashira #4 Myogiryu on Day 11. Despite initially winning the bout, a mono-ii was called, in which Terunofuji was found to be in violation of the rulebook after pulling the topknot of Myogiryu, resulting in hansoku (disqualification) for the basho forerunner. Terunofuji didn’t let the upset phase him for long though; the Ozeki took victory in his next two bouts against Onosho and Ichinojo with relative ease, boosting his score to a staggering 12:1.
With just one additional win needed for Terunofuji, the Ozeki entered Day 14, the penultimate day of proceedings, with his sights set on taking the yusho. Unfortunately for Terunofuji, he would have to wait a while longer, after succumbing to the impressive Maegashira #8 Endo with shitatenage (underarm throw). Adding salt to Terunofuji’s wounds, the Ozeki would be completely bamboozled by Takakeisho on their final day bout which saw the latter equal Terunofuji’s 12:3 score for the first time since the outset of the basho, after defeating Terunofuji with tsukiotoshi (thrust down) in a match-up that lasted less than 5 seconds.
With Takakeisho now tied with Terunofuji, the two were set to face off in an all-important play-off fight for the title. After a fierce bout full of spirit, Terunofuji seized the perfect opportunity to topple Takakeisho to the ground, using hatakikomi (slap down). As a result, Terunofuji won his second consecutive yusho, as well as the admiration of his loving fans.
In a post-match interview, Terunofuji stated the method behind his ultimate victory:
“The desperate effort that I had been putting out led to the result. I did everything I could!”Terunofuji, May Basho Champion, 2021
Terunofuji was not the only wrestler to find success this month; both Endo and Wakatakakage were awarded Gino-sho (technique prize) for their efforts. The former surprised us by finishing the event with 11:4, just one win shy of Terunofuji, who he beat on the penultimate day of the basho. Wakatakakage also looked in strong form throughout the event, finishing his campaign with a respectable 9:6 score.
Overall, it was a highly dynamic and thrilling basho throughout, and we can hardly wait for the 2021 July basho to come! An important question remains though: will Hakuho be fit to compete against the growing dominance of Terunofuji, in just two months’ time, or will the latter enter the forthcoming Basho with the support of the fans as tournament favourite? With all this hanging in the balance, we await to see what further spectacles are to come from the professional Sumo scene in July!