FUKUOKA – Bulgarian sekiwake Kotooshu exacted swift revenge over rampant grand champion Asashoryu on Friday by handing the Mongolian his first defeat on the 13th day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka.
BULGARIAN SEKIWAKE Kotooshu gives a hand to Asashoryu after giving the Mongolian yokozuna the first loss of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka on Friday
Kotooshu (10-3) erased the painful memory of his playoff defeat to the bruiser from Ulan Bator at the autumn meet in September as he stood firm at the charge and overpowered the yokozuna (12-1) at the edge to all but guarantee promotion to ozeki.
The win also gave fresh hope to ozeki Chiyotaikai (11-2) who sits one win off the pace after winning an all-ozeki battle against Kaio.
Given their history and Asashoryu’s recent dominance, especially in Fukuoka, Kotooshu was obviously pleased with his efforts.
“I lost twice to him (Asashoryu) last time so badly wanted to win this one,” said Kotooshu.
The key to thw win, Kotooshu added, was an aggressive and unrelenting style. “I was able to go on attack and wrestle the way I wanted to so I’m delighted. I think I’ve been able to relax a bit since I got a winning record,” added the 22-year-old pin-up.
Kotooshu also denied Asashoryu the chance to set a new record of 83 wins in a year, surpassing the 82 that equaled the previous record set by former yokozuna Kitanoumi in 1978.
Chiyotaikai stayed in contention with a surprisingly easy win over ozeki rival Kaio. He quickly took control and got behind Kaio (9-4) after the charge before squashing his opponent to the dirt with a routine shove.
Komusubi Hakuho huffed and puffed but could not find a way past former ozeki Miyabiyama (9-4) and went down in installments at the edge of the ring to drop to 8-5.
But sekiwake Kotomitsuki outlasted Futeno to secure an eighth win, slapping the stubborn No. 2 maegashira before thrusting him out of the ring.
In other bouts, sumo jester Takamisakari’s (7-6) bark proved bigger than his bite again and he was denied a winning record for the second day in a row after being dumped to defeat by Russian maegashira Hakurozan (9-4).
Roho (9-4) completed a winning double for the Russian siblings in sumo’s top flight when he followed up his younger brother’s win with an equally impressive slap-down victory over Jumonji (8-5).
Georgian No. 6 maegashira Kokkai (7-6), the first European wrestler to grace the elite makuuchi division, edged toward a winning record by forcing out 12th-ranked Wakatoba (5-8).
Meanwhile, the tournament ended on a sad note for gentle giant Kotonowaka, who was saddled with a losing 5-8 record with a defeat to 13th-ranked Shunketsu in his last bout as an active rikishi.
The towering 37-year-old, who retired to take over his stable from father-in-law Sadogatake, wiped away a stream of tears and struggled for words before thanking his fans for all the support he has received during his 21-year career.