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SUMO/ Takerufuji goes from banner bearer to title holder in blink of an eye

时间:2024-07-26 00:21:46 出处:阅读(143)

SUMO/ Takerufuji goes from banner bearer to title holder in blink of an eye

By RYUSABURO MATSUMOTO/ Staff Writer

March 25, 2024 at 16:52 JST

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Photo/IllutrationTakerufuji smiles after defeating Gonoyama and winning the title of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Edion Arena Osaka on March 24. (Toshiyuki Hayashi)

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OSAKA--If Netflix makes another sumo-related series, Takerufuji's "miracle" championship is worthy of consideration, although the truth is stranger than fiction.

The maegashira No. 17 carried the championship banner in the convertible in the parade for Terunofuji after the yokozuna won the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo in January.

Takerufuji rode the convertible in the parade after the conclusion of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on March 24 at Edion Arena Osaka, but this time as the champion himself. 

“It was like watching a drama,” Takerufuji, 24, said the following day in a news conference in Osaka.

Indeed, the rank-and-filer's triumph was a once-in-a-century triumph.

Takerufuji was attempting to be the first wrestler making his debut in the top makuuchi division to win the title since Ryogoku in 1914. 

Increasing the odds was the injury that Takerufuji suffered in his loss to Asanoyama on Day 14. A win would have clinched the title for the maegashira. 

But along with the crucial defeat, Takerufuji felt pain in his right leg afterward. 

His ankle was swelling up. He could barely walk and needed a wheelchair to take him from the arena. 

His stablemaster Isegahama, the former yokozuna Asahifuji, told him not to compete on the final day, saying, “You can’t use your strength, so don’t do it.”

Takerufuji, too, thought it was impossible.

There was only one wrestler who pushed him to ignore the pain and go for the championship. It was Terunofuji, whom Takerufuji respects.

Terunofuji is the senior wrestler who guided Takerufuji to enter the sumo world.

Terunofuji, who had pulled out of the tournament after Day 6 with an injury, told Takerufuji in the dormitory, “You can do it.”

Takerufuji reconsidered giving up.

Even if he did not compete, he could still win the championship if Onosato, a maegashira No. 5, who trailed him by one win, lost on the final day. 

“I can’t wait for (Onosato) to win or lose,” Takerufuji thought. “If I do not compete, I will regret it for the rest of my life.”

The final decision was made the morning of the final day. Takerufuji was given an injection for the pain and persevered to enter the dohyo.

“I thought it would be OK if this was the end of my wrestling career,” he said.

Takerufuji pushed Gonoyama, a maegashira No. 6, back at the start and leaned on him, but was pushed back. Still, Takerufuji held on with his right ankle, which was taped up, and made a final push to send Gonoyama out of the ring and down.

A smile spread across Takerufuji's face shortly after his historic achievement, as the spectators in the packed arena cheered.

“I don't remember what happened,” he said.

At the news conference on March 25, Takerufuji said, “I told my (stablemaster) that I would compete even if I was injured, and I'm glad it turned out well.”

He said about his decision, “I didn’t want to lose in spirit. I was happy to be in the ring.”

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