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Asashoryu leads way; Hakuho stays in hunt

Kyodo News

Yokozuna Asashoryu bumped off another would-be challenger in the form of Kotoshogiku Sunday, grabbing sole possession of the lead with an undefeated 8-0 record at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

Fellow yokozuna Hakuho, meanwhile, stayed one off the pace along with Sadogatake stable ozeki duo Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki and rank-and-filer Kakuryu at 7-1.

Asashoryu, who has flirted with defeat over the first week of competition with a rough and wild brand of sumo, was never in trouble against Kotoshogiku in the day’s final at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The yokozuna, who is seeking his 24th title and first in three meets, controlled the bout throughout before deploying a well-timed overarm throw against the sekiwake. Kotoshogiku slipped to 3-5.

Hakuho failed to get a belt grip on Tamanoshima (1-7) and decided to switch strategy midstream, circling around his opponent to shove out the No. 3 maegashira by his head. Hakuho is aiming for back-to-back titles and his 12th Emperor’s Cup here.

Kotooshu rebounded from Saturday’s defeat to Kakuryu, using his head to outfox the troublesome Toyonoshima, but Kotomitsuki dropped out of share of the lead after he was shown the exit by Kisenosato.

Kotooshu kept his diminutive opponent at a distance before getting both hands in for a firm belt grab and tossing the No. 4 maegashira to the dirt surface. Toyonoshima slipped to 3-5.

Kotomitsuki could not get a handle on the sekiwake Kisenosato (5-3), who charged full speed ahead to place him outside of the ring.

In another key bout, Harumafuji manhandled Shotenro (1-7), the ozeki quickly moving in for the kill in a textbook frontal takeout maneuver after the face-off to pick up a fifth win.

In an all-ozeki showdown, Kaio emerged the winner over Chiyotaikai (2-6), heaving his rival over the edge in convincing fashion to improve to 5-3.