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SUMO: Nagoya Basho 2017 (Day 4)

Holy cats! It’s just Day 4 of the Nagoya Basho and already we’ve got a leaderboard forming! After yesterday’s matches there are just five undefeated rikishi remaining, and only two of them are of sanyaku rank! Our 3–0 rikishi are yokozuna Hakuho, komusubi Yoshikaze, M6 Onosho, M8 Aoiyama, and M15 Nishikigi. Of course, there are still sixteen rikishi with just one loss, so it will be a few days at least until we get a real yusho [tournament championship] race starting to coalesce. In the meanwhile, we’ve got a wildly unpredictable tournament going on.

The biggest news of the day is that we have our first kyujo [withdrawal for injury]. Yokozuna Kakuryu has pulled out of the tournament citing a strained ligament in his right leg. 

One thing you may want to notice during the remaining twelve days is just how HOT it is. The rikishi will be sweating from the moment they enter the stadium. The audience will be constantly fanning themselves (sometimes so vigorously that the broadcast mics will pick up a faint hum from the swishing of the handheld fans). And the dohyo will have more cracks in its side than at most honbasho [grand tournaments].

Nagoya is in central Japan, where the average July temperatures run around 90F and the humidity generally runs about 90%. And the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium does not have any air conditioning. I’m given to understand that with a full crowd at the end of a hot day, the temperature on the dohyo is usually over 100F and the air is so moist it can trigger asthma attacks.

But sumotori don’t care about any of that. All they know is that 8 wins means promotion and 8 losses means demotion, no matter what the weather conditions!

M4 Ura (2–1) vs. M6 Onosho (3–0)—Two of the hottest young rikishi squaring off against each other. And the match is every bit as exciting as you’d hope it would be! (7:17)

Ozeki Takayasu (2–1) vs. sekiwake Mitakeumi (2–1)—Takayasu is trying to get himself comfortable in his new ozeki rank, and Mitakeumi continues to be a threat to ANY champion (having already beaten a yokozuna this basho). (9:57)

Ozeki Terunofuji (1–2) vs. M2 Hokutofuji (2–1)—Hokutofuji has already beaten Takayasu and Kakuryu, can he add the ailing Terunofuji to his hit list? And just how bad is Terunofuji’s situation? He came out and promised that he’d fight for all fifteen days, but he really SEEMS like he’d be better off taking the tournament off and resting. (11:00)

Yokozuna Hakuho (3–0) vs. M1 Takakeisho (1–2)—This is one of the strangest bouts I’ve ever seen. Seriously, just sit back and enjoy the weirdest “maneuver” you’re likely to ever see. (12:50)

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