Asashoryu keeps on rolling

Kyodo

Yokozuna Asashoryu grabbed sole possession of the lead with the demolition of Miyabiyama while promotion-chasing sekiwake Kotooshu stayed one off the pace with a convincing win at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.

After the first third of the 15-day meet, Mongolian Asashoryu, who is chasing an unprecedented seventh straight Emperor’s Cup title, took the lead with a 5-0 record with eight wrestlers pursuing the grand champion at 4-1.

In the day’s final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Asashoryu took control from start to finish, shoving the fourth-ranked maegashira off-balance several times, lifting him up in the air once and promptly pushing him out of the ring in a relentless attack. Miyabiyama fell to 3-2.

Bulgarian Kotooshu (4-1) made quick work of top-ranked maegashira Hokutoriki (1-4), getting a solid two-handed grip on his opponent’s belt after the face-off before ushering him over the ridge in convincing fashion.

In September, Asashoryu dispatched main rival Kotooshu in a playoff to win the autumn tourney and is also looking to become the first wrestler to win all six tournaments in a year.

Kotooshu, who is aiming to promotion to sumo’s second highest rank of ozeki with a strong showing of 13 or more wins in Kyushu, finally began to show signs of life after a nightmare first-day loss and one win by default.

Elsewhere in the upper echelon, Kaio was railroaded by top-ranked maegashira Tamanoshima (4-1) and slipped to a second defeat while fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai (4-1) rammed winless Dejima after the face-off before sending the third-ranked maegashira floundering over the edge to his fifth loss in a row.

Kaio, who pulled out of the autumn basho with a hamstring injury, must win eight bouts here as he faces relegation for a record-tying eighth time.

In other main bouts, crowd favorite Takamisakari (3-2) snapped an 0-4 career losing streak against Takekaze (3-2), quickly wrapping both arms around his fellow ninth-ranked opponent before slamming him to the dirt surface.

Mongolian Ama, a No. 5 maegashira, escaped the grasp of Toyonoshima before dumping the eight-ranked maegashira to the clay with a well-executed underarm throw.