Aki Basho 2023: September showdown for Sumo’s elite.

The September Tournament is finally here and the Division 1 wrestlers are ready to do battle.

From the rustling of the trees and the dithering days of summer, the Aki Basho is finally here with the first matches to be held on September 10. Hoshoryu not only looks to defend his title as a new Ozeki, but he also looks to do what he needs to do to get himself to the ultimate ranking: Yokozuna. The summer tour and training officially closed out today and all elite wrestlers went back to their respective stables for final preps. Here are some little vignettes of what’s to be expected in this September showdown.

Asanoyama is a “go” but Terunofuji is a “tournament day” decision.

Asanoyama had a setback during his training, hurting his big toe and also dealing with that partial muscle tear but he says he is feeling much better. “My toe feels better and my arm muscle feels stronger,” says Asanoyama, “I’ll do the best I can for this tournament.” He had 142 practice matches in total and says he’s feeling much improved.

Terunofuji gained some weight during the summer tour but still looks somewhat under his billed weight. Terunofuji attempted no practice bouts and says he’s still not 100%. “I just feel a bit off,” Terunofuji said with a smirk, “unfortunately, I’ll be a tournament-day decision.”

Kirishima and Takakeisho and their dealings with their Ozeki Kadoban status.

Kirishima was dealt a blow in the first tournament as Ozeki with an injury but he didn’t reel off enough wins to keep his ranking, therefore he is kadoban (in danger of demotion) for this tournament. “I’m not too worried about this,” Kirishima said to reporters, “it was one tournament, now I got to focus on this one and retain my status.” Takakeisho on the other hand is having a rough go this sumo year as he is also kadoban again for this tournament. He missed all 15 matches with injury in the July tournament, so now winning becomes even more paramount to retaining his Ozeki status. “Yes it’s upsetting,” Takakeisho vented, “but I’ll be ready and will charge like a bull as I am focused on another championship.”

Gonoyama sporting a Baltimore Orioles hat while talking with reporters.

Apparently, Gonoyama must be a very big Orioles fan as he was talking with reporters during final training and had a very big smile on his face too. One reporter made a mention of the ballcap and Gonoyama smiled saying, “I enjoy watching the Orioles on television when Shintaro-san is pitching. He sort of made me a fan.” Gonoyama is in just his 2nd Division 1 tournament after finishing a rugged 10-5, picking up a fighting spirit award.

Gonoyama also made a remark about Gunnar Henderson saying, “Gunnar? He has one of the toughest first names in professional sports. He plays baseball very well.”

Although, technically prohibited, most wrestlers are allowed to wear some sort of “Western-Style” clothing while speaking with reporters.

Hakuoho to have shoulder surgery and will miss at least the next 3 tournaments.

Hakuoho, the 19-year-old budding star, will miss the next 3 tournaments which could push him down to Division 2 or at worst, a high rank at Division 3. This is due to a severe shoulder injury he sustained prior to the last tournament which doctors stated would need “retooling” surgery. He went 11-4 in his division 1 debut, picking up 2 special prizes, and a 3rd place finish.

Atamifuji returns to the big show in Division 1 after winning the Division 2 championship handily.

Atamifuji debuted in Division 1 to a 4-11 mark which got him sent back down to Division 2. After a few struggles, Atamifuji seemingly has found his edge and is ready to rumble in the Division 1 makuuchi ranks. The 21-year-old knows he will need the coveted 8 wins to retain his mark in Division 1 or else he will be back down to the Division 2 ranks.

Akiseyama prepares for the academic year at Waseda University.

The former Akiseyama is now a professor of literature at the elite Waseda University. He was lovingly pranked by his former sumo colleagues as he prepped for his first day looking about 75-80 pounds lighter than his billed weight of 399 pounds. “All in good fun I suppose,” says the former Akiseyama, “but when you are in my class, you will listen up.” According to his students, his lectures in sumo were rather exciting. One student said, “he demands full cooperation and also attention, but at least he lets us read good literature.”

In conclusion

The Aki Basho is considered one of the top-attended tournaments in sumo history as many will fill the arena to capacity and cheer on their favorite wrestlers. Now that COVID has finally taken a backseat, the cheering will return as will the many attendees of the 15-day sumo event is finally here.

I’m going to go with Hoshoryu to win this tournament at 13-2, bringing him 1 more tournament win closer to Yokozuna. Gonoyama I believe will take a runner-up status at 12-3.

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Joshua Leuschner

Orioles/Ravens/Capitals/Terrapins/Inter Miami CF fan. Runs a podcast who tells it like it is (I-95 East Coast Sports Podcast) and loves sports, sports betting (responsibly of course), and finding arcane statistics in professional sports. He is also a devoted classic cartoon enthusiast (1930s rubberhose and 1940s-1960s silver/golden age animation), video game player, Enya enthusiast, devotee of classical music (Mozart, Sibelius, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and others), Hair/Classic/80s Rock fan, beer connoisseur, gym goer, former Slow Pitch Softball Player, and traveler.

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