FUKUOKA – Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu won ugly against Tokitenku to preserve his unbeaten record at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
Asashoryu landed an early blow to Tokitenku’s (1-3) face and after putting the second-ranked maegashira on the back foot and bumping him over the straw ridge, the “Bully from Ulan Bator” showed his mean streak by following through with an extra out-of-the-ring shove for good measure.
Chief rival Hakuho, meanwhile, had little trouble in dealing with Kotoshogiku and retained his place in a share for the lead at 4-0 with Asashoryu and rank-and-filer Yoshikaze.
Hakuho quickly took control of his bout with Kotoshogiku (2-2) and never looked back, the yokozuna sending the No. 2 maegashira sprawling with a textbook overarm throw.
Asashoryu did not compete in the previous two Kyushu tournaments. Sumo’s enfant terrible was banned from the 2007 meet for playing soccer in Mongolia while supposedly injured and missed last year’s event because of a an elbow problem.
Asashoryu and Hakuho have both won two tournaments each so far this year and in all likelihood it will be one of the yokozuna that ends up carting off the Emperor’s Cup in the final basho of the year.
Asashoryu is seeking his 25th career title after beating Hakuho in a playoff on the final day of the autumn meet. Hakuho can surpass Asashoryu’s record of 84 wins in a year with 14 victories here.
Elsewhere in the upper echelons, Chiyotaikai and fellow veteran Kaio both crashed to defeat on another topsy-turvy day for wrestlers at sumo’s second rank of ozeki.