FUKUOKA – Toyonoshima won a battle against Baruto, Kaio put on another sumo clinic and Hakuho dispensed with Tochiozan on Thursday, leaving three wrestlers tied for the lead at 11-1 with three days remaining at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Toyonoshima, a former sekiwake who is currently a No. 9 maegashira, pulled off the improbable after the Estonian ozeki got a superior grip on his mawashi in the day’s penultimate bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Baruto backed his opponent to the edge but his right foot contorted and gave way after Toyonoshima reacted with a twisting underarm throw to send the ozeki to one knee and limping off the dohyo.
Baruto, who is aiming for his first career title, slipped back in the title race at 10-2.
“I didn’t realize that I had twisted,” said Toyonoshima, who spent the autumn meet in the second-tier juryo division after he was demoted for betting on pro baseball.
“When I was on the edge, I just tried to do something. Now I am thinking about winning the title. You don’t get a chance like this too often. I’ll do my best,” he said.
Hakuho, who is seeking his fifth consecutive title after failing to match yokozuna legend Futabayama’s all-time wins streak record of 69 here, let Tochiozan (4-8) charge forward in the final bout before deploying an armlock throw for a quick kill.
Hakuho, whose wins streak was stopped by Kisenosato at 63 on the second day, can claim his 17th Emperor’s Cup. He takes on Kaio on Friday.
Kaio was not fooled for a second by Hakuba (4-8), who tried to move to the side at the charge before the veteran ozeki slipped his left hand inside and muscled the Mongolian No. 4 maegashira out in a matter of seconds.
The last time Kaio won a title — his career fifth — was when he beat former yokozuna Asashoryu at the 2004 autumn meet at the age of 32, but later failed in a bid for promotion to yokozuna.
In other bouts, Kotooshu was sent flailing over the ridge in his bout against Kakuryu (6-6) after the Bulgarian ozeki (8-4) came charging blindly forward.