FUKUOKA – Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu stayed on course to become the first wrestler since 1986 to win five Emperor’s Cup in a single year by barging out Kotonowaka to stay perfect at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.
Looking to rebound from a disappointing 9-6 showing in the autumn meet, the 24-year-old bruiser from Ulan Bator wasted little time in racking up his eighth win in the day’s final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, diving in low and turning Kotonowaka (6-2) around and out of the ring with minimal fuss.
Asashoryu holds a one-win lead over promotion-chasing Kaio, Wakanosato, Russian Roho and fellow Mongolian Hakuho.
Autumn champion Kaio, a Fukuoka native, put on a classy performance for his home fans as he pulled away from the clutches of Tamanoshima (3-5) and wrapped the fourth-ranked maegashira up and ushered him over the straw bales.
Kaio has recovered well after suffering a shock defeat on the opening day of the 15-day meet but needs to keep the pressure on Asashoryu in the final week to have any chance of bringing home his second straight title and earning promotion to yokozuna.
The Tomozuna stable star and Chiyotaikai are the only wrestlers left fighting in this tournament at ozeki after Tochiazuma pulled out through injury, while Musoyama decided to call it a day after suffering his third straight loss on Wednesday.
Chiyotaikai has made a disastrous start to the 15-day meet but managed to level his record at 4-4 after battering former komusubi Kyokushuzan (1-7) with a flurry of trademark slaps and arm thrusts.
In other key bouts, sekiwake Wakanosato, who has retained his rank in the “sanyaku” — the three ranks below yokozuna — for 18 consecutive basho, huffed and puffed his way past Tochinonada (2-6).
Hakuho, 19, kept his title hopes alive with a hard-fought seventh win over Iwakiyama.
Setback for Tochiazuma
FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Injury-ravaged ozeki Tochiazuma, who pulled out of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday with a fractured shoulder, will miss the New Year meet in January, his father and stablemaster Tamanoi said Sunday.