FUKUOKA – Ozeki Chiyotaikai was sent reeling to his first defeat at the hands of Dejima, but got a lucky break to remain the sole leader when Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho fell to a shock second loss against compatriot Ama at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.
Chiyotaikai slipped to 7-1 while Hakuho fell into a group of seven wrestlers one off the pace with 6-2 records as the 15-day meet enters the final week.
Chiyotaikai, normally known for his rapid-fire thrusting attack, never got his arms rolling as Dejima beat him out of the crouch at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
The ozeki tried an ineffective throat grab and was unable to hold back the charge of Dejima (6-2), who crushed him over the edge in convincing fashion.
It was Dejima’s third ozeki kill.
In the day’s final bout, Hakuho was a disconcerted mess as he wavered on his mode of attack, first pushing forward then pulling back, and was tossed to the dohyo surface when Ama (5-3) applied an underarm technique.
The yokozuna won the autumn basho in September and has been favored to win a fifth career title in the absence of suspension-hit yokozuna Asashoryu, but he is showing all the confidence of a deer in the headlights as of late.
Asashoryu, banned from competing after he was punished for playing in a charity soccer match in his native Mongolia despite having claimed injuries that allowed him to miss a regional tour, will return for the New Year meet in January.
Back in the ring, battle-worn ozeki Kaio, meanwhile, got a boost of Incredible Hulk strength from his hometown fans against Kakuryu, moving in for a favored left-hand grip before shoving his opponent hard into the ringside seats like a ragdoll to pick up his fifth win. Kakuryu fell to 1-7.
Kotomitsuki (6-2) was the second ozeki to bite the dust as he was surreptitiously sent packing by Tokitenku (5-3) when he charged forward blindly after the faceoff.
In an early match, rank-and-filer Goeido perhaps was a bit too tentative in his match against Toyonoshima and was shoved out from the rear when his opponent wiggled out off a stalemate at the ring’s center. Both men were left at 6-2.
Homasho, a top-ranked maegashira, snapped his weeklong nightmare, winning his first match of the meet with a solid frontal takeout of Mongolian sekiwake Asasekiryu, who slipped to 3-5.