NAGOYA – Bulgarian giant-killer Kotooshu held onto his share of the lead after mowing down eastern European rival Kokkai as yokozuna Asashoryu got his campaign for a fifth straight title back on track at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
Komusubi Kotooshu, who shocked Asashoryu and has also defeated two ozeki at this tournament, registered double-digit wins to lead the 15-day meet at 10-2 with Asashoryu after a clinical display at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
Former sekiwake Wakanosato, however, dropped out of the leading trio after a comprehensive defeat to local favorite Kotomitsuki (5-7) and shared second with ozeki Kaio and popular maegashira Takamisakari at 9-3.
Dubbed sumo’s David Beckham for his boyish good looks, Kotooshu took a strong attack from Georgia’s Kokkai (8-4) in stride and dodged a follow-through before turning his opponent around and charging him down at the ring’s edge.
In the day’s finale, Asashoryu, who was handed a second shock defeat of the tournament to Kokkai on Wednesday, recovered with a hard-fought win over fellow-Mongolian Kyokutenho (6-6).
Kyokutenho proved to be a stubborn opponent as the two got locked in lengthy stalemate at the center of the ring but Asashoryu made all the right moves and got hold of Kyokutenho’s belt before tossing him to the floor.
Asashoryu won the summer meet with a 15-0 mark and is aiming to become the first wrestler in almost 20 years to win five tournaments in a row.
Kaio, fresh from securing an eighth win that will keep him at the ozeki rank for at least the next two tournaments, kept his own title hopes alive after making short work of Tochiazuma (8-4) in an all-ozeki battle.
Wakanosato, however, never stood a chance against Kotomitsuki, who, determined to keep his rank on his return to sekiwake, lifted the maegashira off the floor at the “tachi-ai” and forced him over the edge with as series of powerful shoves.
Sumo funnyman Takamisakari, out to prove he is more than a circus entertainer, got back on the winning track and sits one win behind after getting the better of Futeno (7-5) in a closely contested bout.
No. 11 maegashira Takamisakari reacted with shock when he was awarded his ninth win after ringside judges decided he had beaten third-ranked Futeno.
“That’s a real surprise for me. I kept going right until the end but was sure I had lost,” said Takamisakari, who gets himself fired up with a bizarre chest-beating pre-bout routine.