FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Hakuho brought giant-killing maegashira Wakanosato back to earth with a slightly fortuitous win on the fourth day of action at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
His opening-day loss to Aminishiki firmly behind him, lone yokozuna Hakuho improved to 3-1 to remain one win behind leading trio Miyabiyama, Tokitenku and Dejima.
Wakanosato (3-1) had made a fantastic start to the 15-day meet, taking out three ozeki in succession, but the former sekiwake’s luck deserted him in the day’s finale at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Both men crashed out of the ring after the charge and looked to have touched the sandy surface at the same time. But judges gave the benefit of the doubt to the yokozuna and awarded him the win.
Hakuho, who won his eighth career Emperor’s Cup at the autumn meet in September, is the strong favorite to take home the tournament silverware in the absence of rival Asashoryu.
Asashoryu is sitting out the tourney with an injured left elbow but is preparing to make his comeback at the New Year meet in Tokyo, where he is likely to be wrestling with his career on the line.
Back in the ring, Chiyotaikai eased to a second win by barging out third-ranked maegashira Hokutoriki (1-3), and Kotomitsuki stayed one win off the pace with a non-nonsense dismantling of winless Futeno.
But struggling Bulgarian Kotooshu spurned the chance to make it a clean sweep for ozeki when he was bundled out to a third loss by top-ranked maegashira Toyonoshima, who improved to 3-1.
At sumo’s third rank of sekiwake, Ama’s bid for promotion to ozeki suffered another setback after he was slapped down to a second defeat by komusubi Goeido (1-3).