Ozeki Kaio captured his fifth Emperor’s Cup on Sunday, even before a hard-fought victory over grand champion Asashoryu on the final day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
In an earlier bout, Kotonowaka took the drama out of the day when he threw Tochinonada down with an arm throw, a result that clinched the title for Kaio.
Despite Kotonowaka’s win, Kaio still had his hands full in the day’s final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan when he took on determined Mongolian Asashoryu.
“I wanted to close out with a win,” said Kaio. “I knew I already had the title wrapped up, but didn’t think about that and just tried to be aggressive and stick to my game plan.”
After being forced back to the edge at the faceoff, Kaio got a left-hand grip of Asashoryu’s belt and finally forced his opponent out to finish the 15-day tournament with a record of 13-2.
Asashoryu, who was denied his fifth straight title after losing to Chiyotaikai on Saturday, looked out of sorts over the second half of the tourney when he lost four in a row to finish with an uncharacteristic record of 9-6.
It was Kaio’s first title in seven tournaments and, with 13 wins, it could fuel calls for his promotion to grand champion if he is able to follow up with another strong performance at November’s Kyushu tourney.
Third-ranked maegashira Tochinonada needed a win over Kotonowaka to have any chance of forcing a playoff, but couldn’t deliver the goods against the No. 9 maegashira and dropped to 11-4. Kotonowaka improved to 10-5.
In other major bouts, ozeki Chiyotaikai, who had an otherwise disappointing tourney, finished on a positive note when he threw down sekiwake Wakanosato to wrap up a winning record of 8-7. Wakanosato dropped to 10-5.
In a showdown of top maegashira wrestlers, Georgian-born Kokkai bounced back from two straight losses and closed out the Autumn tourney with a 7-8 record after using a leg kick to send Shimotori down to his 10th loss.
Komusubi Kotomitsuki wrapped up a winning 8-7 record when he muscled out No. 5 maegashira Dejima, who finished with a respectable 10-5 record.