Kaio maintains top ozeki position

Promotion-chasing ozeki Kaio, who claimed his fifth Emperor’s Cup at the autumn meet, maintained the top ozeki position as the Japan Sumo Association announced the rankings Monday for the upcoming Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kaio went 13-2 to take home the tourney hardware in Tokyo and will need a big showing if he is to succeed in his latest bid for promotion to yokozuna in the 15-day meet kicking off at Fukuoka Kokusai Center on Nov. 14.

Lone grand champion Asashoryu, whose bid for an unprecedented sweep of all six tournaments in a single calendar year ended with a 9-6 record in the autumn meet in September, will be looking to bounce back and keeps the top east slot.

Elsewhere at the top of the sumo ladder, injury-prone Musoyama, who pulled out of the autumn basho with a left shoulder problem, will join Kaio on the east side as he battles to save his rank for the sixth time.

Tochiazuma, who also hobbled out of the last tournament, will be looking to stave off relegation again on the west side along with fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai.

Wakanosato, who has retained his rank in the “sanyaku” — the three ranks below yokozuna — for 18 consecutive basho, stays on the east at sekiwake with former ozeki Miyabiyama retaining the west slot.

Lower down the ranks, 18-year-old Kiseinosato, who changed his name from Hagiwara last month, will be looking to make an impact as the second-youngest grappler in recent times to reach the makuuchi division.

Takahanada, who went on to become legendary yokozuna Takanohana, was the youngest to reach the sumo’s top flight since 1926 at 17 years old.

There will be a record 11 foreign wrestlers in the makuuchi division for the Kyushu meet, including 20-year-old Mongolian Ama, who will be making his makuuchi debut and South Korea’s Kasugao, who returns to the top flight along with Tokitenku and Toki.