Kotooshu took a significant step toward becoming the first ever European grappler to win the Emperor’s Cup when he pulled off a stunning win over Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
The Bulgarian pinup improved to 11-0 to stay one win ahead of Hakuho, who beat ozeki Chiyotaikai, while Asashoryu dropped into a tie at 9-2 with rank-and filer Toyonoshima.
Kotooshu entered the 15-day meet facing relegation but has been in scintillating form at the 15-day meet, posting his most impressive winning streak since going 12-0 as a sekiwake at the 2005 autumn basho.
The ozeki was in total control during the day’s finale at Ryogoku Kokugikan before he got both hands on the front of Asashoryu’s belt and shunted him out of the dohyo.
Top-ranked maegashira Kokkai, who hails from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, was the first wrestler from Europe to reach sumo’s top makuuchi division.
In the day’s penultimate bout, Hakuho rebounded from his first loss of the meet as he untangled himself from Chiyotaikai’s grip and saddled the ozeki with a losing record after barging him out to an eighth loss.
Asashoryu, who beat Hakuho on the final day of the spring meet, is aiming for his 23rd career title while Hakuho is gunning for his seventh career crown and first in two basho.
In other matches involving ozeki, Kaio (6-5) got both arms around second-ranked Wakanoho (4-7) and easily ushered out the Russian teenager to move to 5-5 but Kotomitsuki dropped to 6-5 after inadvertently stepping out of the ring in his bout with third-ranked Kakuryu (4-7).
Riding high after Tuesday’s win over Hakuho, Ama (7-4) waltzed Kokkai (2-9) out of the ring but sekiwake teammate Kotoshogiku was outsmarted by Kisenosato (7-4) and got twisted down to a fifth loss by the giant-killing komusubi.
In an earlier bout, fifth-ranked Toyonoshima forced out maegashira Iwakiyama.