OSAKA – Baruto took a giant stride toward promotion to ozeki and stayed hot on the heels of leading yokozuna Hakuho with an impressive 12th win at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
The Estonian sekiwake (12-1) battered former ozeki Miyabiyama (10-3) from one side of the ring to the other at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium and moves into the final weekend of the 15-day basho just one win behind tourney favorite Hakuho.
One more victory here for former nightclub bouncer Baruto should fulfill the Japan Sumo Association’s loosely set requirement of 13 wins for promotion to sumo’s second rank.
It would also keep him firmly in the hunt to become only the second European wrestler after Bulgarian Kotooshu to lift the Emperor’s Cup.
Baruto faces third-ranked Kotoshogiku on Saturday, while Hakuho is up against Kotooshu.
Hakuho bided his time and broke free from a lockup with Kaio (7-6) to put the veteran ozeki on his backside in the day’s final bout.
In other key bouts, Kotooshu (9-4) appeared to lose his footing and dropped both hands to the clay surface in an all-ozeki meeting against Harumafuji (10-3) while Tochiozan, kept Kotomitsuki (8-5) at bay and twisted the ozeki down for a 10th win.
Kisenosato (7-6) bounced back in style to close in on a winning record, the komusubi gobbling up fifth-ranked Homasho (8-5), while Aminishiki (7-6) completed a komusubi double by taking down sekiwake Toyonoshima (5-8) with an overarm throw.
Toyonoshima and Aminishiki looked more like a pair of synchronized divers as they went somersaulting off the dohyo but the latter was awarded the win following a mid-ring deliberation by ringside judges.