Takerufuji (C) (Japan Sumo Association)

Grand Sumo: March Tournament Results and Highlights

Grand Sumo’s second tournament of the year came to a close on Sunday, Mar. 24. The 24-year-old Takerufuji won the tournament with a tremendous and gutsy performance that was strung out over the past two weeks. In doing so, he made history.

Takerufuji was competing in his very first makuuchi – which is the top division – tournament, and only his 10th pro tournament ever. The last time a debuting top-division rikishi (sumo wrestler) won the yusho (championship) was 110 years ago. Takerufuji’s 10 tournaments also makes him the quickest rikishi to ever win a makuuchi championship. His tournament ranking of maegashira 17, which is the lowest possible, also makes him the lowest-ranked rikishi ever to win the title.

Takerufuji, who comes from the powerhouse Isegahama stable, home to yokozuna Terunofuji, sliced through his competition over 15 days, ending the tournament with a record of 13-2. 


He won most of his bouts thanks to his lightning-quick starts off the tachiai (the opening clash) followed by strong, compact and technically-sound pushing. This saw him bank an 8-0 start to the tournament, while competing against wrestlers placed around him in the lower half of the rankings.

In the second week of the tournament, when match-making shifts from similar-rank to similar-record, Takerufuji faced off against the best wrestlers he’d ever competed with, outside of the training room at Isegahama.

On Day 9, he bested komusubi Abi, then he beat Onosato, before he forced out ozeki Kotonowaka. On Day 12, he suffered his first loss of the tournament, due to a quick, reactive judo throw from ozeki Hoshoryu , who is a future yokozuna to many. 

Takerufuji regrouped after that loss and took an impressive win over sekiwake Wakamotoharu. The next day, he suffered his second loss to former ozeki Asanoyama. In that bout, Takerufuji fell from the raised ring and rolled his ankle. He needed a wheelchair to leave the arena.

His stablemaster advised Takerufuji to pull out of the competition and hoped that results with other wrestlers went his way on the final day, so he might still claim the title. However, the rookie decided to hobble to the ring on Day 15 to try and win the cup in style.

On the last day, he faced Gonoyama, knowing a win would give him a historic Emperor’s Cup victory. And, he did just that. He blasted off of his bum ankle and was able to force his opponent, who was no slouch, off the ring.

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5muAt3HKPw

In addition to his championship, Takerufuji was also awarded the “Outstanding Performance,” “Fighting Spirit” and “Technique” prizes.

The full results for the 2024 haru basho are presented below:

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XitEVdKUg4o

Onosato comes close to making history himself

The wrestler who pushed Takerufuji hardest this tournament was a man, who, if he had won, would have made just as many headlines. The 23-year-old Onosato finished the tournament with an 11-4 record, good for a share of second place. He achieved this excellent record, despite competing in only his sixth pro tournament.

Onosato debuted in the top division in January, where he looked sensational, also getting off to an 8-1 start, before being brought down to Earth by elites, such as Kotonowaka, Hoshoryu and Terunofuji. 

In March, Onosato again got off to a hot start, going 7-1 at the midway point. After an impressive win over Wakamotoharu, he then lost to Takerufuji on Day 10. He rebounded with a win over ozeki Takakeisho. If Takerufuji lost on the final day of the tournament, Onosato could have forced a playoff against him.

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdnfNJCDLBQ

Onosato, whose hair is still too short for the traditional top knot, received the “Fighting Spirit” and “Outstanding Performance” prizes for his March run.

The elites struggled to keep up with the rookies

While Hoshoryu and Kotonowaka kept pace with Takerufuji until the very end of the tournament, the rest of the san’yaku, which are sumo’s elite upper-ranked wrestlers, struggled in March.

The yokozuna Terunofuji bowed out on Day 6 with an injury after two embarrassing losses to Nishikigi and Takanosho. Takakeisho barely secured a kachi-koshi, or winning record, and Kirishima, the most senior-ranked ozeki, had a nightmare of a tournament.

Kirishima, who won two tournaments last year and banked more wins than anyone else, ended the March tournament with a 5-10 record. The extremely creative and cunning Kirishima looked out of sorts, as he fumbled his way to losses against lower-ranked foes. Because of his losing record, Kirishima will be kadoban at the May tournament, meaning, if he gets a second losing record, he will lose his highly-prized ozeki rank.

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-mhus5wqGg

Rounding out the san’yaku, Wakamotoharu and Abi scored 9-6 records, and Daieisho and Nishikigi suffered heavy losing records.

What’s next?

Grand Sumo will be back in May for the natsu basho, or Summer tournament. That event begins on May 12 and ends on May 26. The tournament will take place at the historic Ryokku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.

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