Regular readers will probably know that my wife and I are avid fans of sumo. We have paid extra fees to the cable company for many many years so that we can watch the 6-times yearly tournaments (basho) for the Emperor’s Cup direct and live from Japan TV. We are currently 10 days into the May basho, with 5 more days of bouts to come.
My chief rikishi (wrestler) is a young Bulgarian named Kotooshu who broke into the top ranks of the sport a couple of years ago and raced up to the second highest rank of ozeki. Unfortunately, he then spent a long time with knee injuries and a kind of bored attitude that didn’t do well in basho. He was lucky to survive with his rank intact. At this basho, however, he has come out storming, winning all 10 of his contests so far, many of them with the strength and ease with which he entranced us in his earlier days.
The two yokozuna (grand champions) Asashoryu (probably the greatest rikishi of our generation) and Hakuho (my wife’s favourite) sit at 9 wins and 1 loss each. Kotooshu fights Asashoryu tonight and Hakuho tomorrow night. If Kotooshu can beat the great Mongolian tonight, then tomorrow’s fight against Hakuho will effectively be for all the marbles and Kotooshu’s first shot at an Emperor’s Cup and a million dollar payday.
Another one of our joint favourites, another Mongolian called Ama, is the smallest rikishi at the heighest levels of the sport. He is often outweighed by 100 pounds and more. Two nights ago he pulled off the greatest sumo move I have ever seen. He was fighting a much bigger opponent who threw him over. However, in mid air, he managed to pull and twist the bigger fellow under him so that the other guy hit the mat with Ama on top. A brilliant victory. To top that off, he defeated Hakuho last night to give the yokozuna his only loss of the basho so far.
It has been a great tournament.