FUKUOKA – Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho dispatched winless Miyabiyama Tuesday to stay one off the pace on the third day of action at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho remained completely composed while absorbing Miyabiyama’s brawny slaps before getting his left hand on his opponent’s mawashi and tossing him hard to the dohyo surface with an overarm throw to improve to 2-1 at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Veteran ozeki Kaio, meanwhile, waited patiently for the right moment before getting a firm grip on Kotoshogiku and ushering the komusubi over the straw bales to improve to 2-1. Kotoshogiku, who beat Hakuho on the opening day, fell to 1-2.
The 35-year-old Kaio, who faces demotion for a record 11th time, is suffering from injuries to both hamstrings and many believe he could be wrestling in his last meet if he fails to make the grade in front of his hometown fans.
Four wrestlers, including ozeki Chiyotaikai and makuuchi-maegashira returnee Baruto of Estonia, have perfect records in the early running.
The 22-year-old Hakuho won his fourth career title at the autumn meet in September and is the hands-down favorite to take home the coveted hardware at the 15-day meet.
Asashoryu, the other yokozuna, has been banned from two tournaments and is scheduled to return to the ring at the New Year meet in January.
All of sumo’s ozeki walked away winners on a day of few upsets among the higher-ranked wrestlers at the Kyushu meet.
Chiyotaikai hit Kisenosato with a salvo of his trademark thrusts before running out the No. 2 maegashira to stay perfect.