Grand Sumo returns for the second tournament of the year. The 15-day March basho is set to take place at the EDION Arena Osaka in Osaka, Japan. Terunofuji is the sole yokozuna in the March banzuke with January tournament winner Takakeisho the sole ozeki in representation.
2023 March Grand Sumo Tournament Preview
With some fans expecting the title yokozuna to be assigned to January’s tournament winner Takakeisho, some may be surprised by the announcement of the March 2023 basho rankings. Despite Takakeisho’s third Emperor’s Cup victory in January, the yokozuna panel declined to give Takakeisho the honor. The sport of sumo, which lacks clear star power at the moment, could benefit from a promotion of the sorts but fans will simply have to wait until after the March basho to see if Takakiesho may be award with such.
The participation of East yokozuna Terunofuji is unclear yet, so the 15-day tournament may go yet again without a yokozuna in representation.
— NHK大相撲（公式） (@NhkSumo) February 27, 2023
The March banzuke, the official listings of tournament rankings, saw a key rikishi make strides towards the top of the Makuuchi division. January’s Technique Prize winner Kiribayama ranked up from East Komosubi #1 to East Sekiwake #2. Hiradoumi climbed up one spot from West Maegashira #10 to West Maegashira #9. Azumaryū jumped from the West to the East, ranking from West Maegashira #14 to East Maegashira #11 and Ichiyamamoto leaped up six spots from East Maegashira #14 to East Maegashira #8.
Kinbōzan, Hokuseihō, and Bushōzan will all be joining the top division for the first time after ranking out of the Juryo division.
July 2022 tournament winner Ichinojō has been demoted to the Juryo division after two poor showings in September and November 2022 and a suspension from action in January 2023. Chiyomaru also fell to the Juryo ranks.
Sumo is at an odd time. The sport and the fans are desperately in need of standout competition. With Terunofuji’s participation in question, will Takakeisho find his way to another dynamic performance, a championship win, and perhaps a promotion to yokozuna? Does rikishi like Wakatakakage, Tobizaru, or Abi blitz towards the front of the pack or does Shodai bounce back to his once-to-be force of utter dominance?
Fans across the globe can watch the March 2023 tournament, which starts March 12th, online at NHK Sumo.
UPDATE: Yokozuna Terunofuji is officially out of competition for the 2023 March basho.