NAGOYA – Veteran ozeki Kaio beat maegashira Kyokutenho to surpass former yokozuna Chiyonofuji for the most career wins with his 1,046th victory at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
Kaio lost his first three bouts but matched Chiyonofuji’s record on Wednesday before moving to the top of the all-time list with a “yorikiri” force-out defeat of his opponent at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
Kyokutenho (1-4) put up a brave fight and forced a prolonged mid-ring stalemate, but Kaio bided his time and surged forward to bundle the second-ranked Mongolian out of the dohyo.
“Even if you ask me how I feel,” Kaio said, “I’ve made a losing start to the tournament so I can’t allow myself to get overexcited.
“Today, I fought the same way I have been doing in practice. I just need to keep my focus on the tournament.”
Chiyonofuji, now sumo elder Kokonoe, said, “He fought like an ozeki today and did really well.
“If you serve as a role model to junior wrestlers and make an effort, results follow. That is the best thing that he has found.”
Kaio, who turns 39 on July 24, made his sumo debut at the 1988 spring basho along with such former yokozuna wrestlers Takanohana, Wakanohana and Akebono. He debuted in the elite makuuchi division at the 1993 summer basho.
“All I can say is that he was splendid,” said Japan Sumo Association chief Hanaregoma. “If he hadn’t had so many injuries he would have been even higher up there.”
Takanohana added: “He was perfect. He is back to normal and composed. Watching from below the dohyo, I felt he was going to win. Hopefully, he can keep it going.”
In the day’s other key bouts, grand champion yokozuna Hakuho saw off second-ranked Toyonoshima (2-3) to keep his slate clean and stay on course for an unprecedented eighth consecutive title at the 15-day meet.
Ozeki Harumafuji also preserved his perfect record when he outslugged Yoshikaze (1-4), but Estonian bulldozer Baruto and Bulgarian Kotooshu were both sent to shock defeats.
Rank-and-filer Homasho overpowered 10th-ranked Kitataiki (2-3) and was also at 5-0.
Kotooshu fell two wins off the pace after being shoved out by third-ranked maegashira Wakakoyu, who collected his first win of the tournament, while Baruto was sent sprawling to his first loss by sekiwake Kakuryu (4-1).
Kotoshogiku claimed sekiwake bragging rights to keep up his hopes of promotion to ozeki, outmuscling Kisenosato at the ring’s edge to move to 4-1.
Kotoshogiku needs to post 12 wins to be considered for a move up to sumo’s second-highest rank.
Meanwhile, Tochinoshin came out on top of an all-komusubi matchup, the Georgian slapping down Goeido for a second win. Goeido dropped to 1-4.