NAGOYA – On the penultimate day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, Harumafuji conquered his demons with a mouthwatering victory over yokozuna Hakuho, capturing his second career title on Saturday.
The Mongolian ozeki improved to an unassailable 14-0 record, while Hakuho dropped to his second defeat and failed in his bid to win an unprecedented eighth consecutive title.
In the day’s finale, Harumafuji got a razor-sharp jump at the face-off to get his left hand on Hakuho’s mawashi and held on for dear life before reaching deep into his energy reserves to send the grand champion backpedaling out at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
“I feel great. I really wrestled the sumo of my life. I had to use all my power,” said Harumafuji, who won his first title since beating Hakuho in a playoff at the 2009 summer basho.
“I’ve had many troubles and injuries since becoming ozeki but I kept training and got support from a lot of people.”
He added: “I plan to do my best in tomorrow’s bout as well,” he said.
Hakuho had been on track to surpass his record streak of seven successive titles he holds with former yokozuna Asashoryu. But the yokozuna appears to have lost some of his zeal after being the poster boy for sumo for so long.
Ozeki hopeful Kotoshogiku, who beat Hakuho on the 11th day, suffered a fatal fourth loss after he was sent sprawling to the dirt by Wakanosato (8-6) with a beltless arm throw.
Kotoshogiku came into the 15-day meet needing at least 12 wins to be considered for promotion to sumo’s second-highest rank but has lost two straight bouts to rank-and-file wrestlers following his tour de force against Hakuho.
In a showdown of ozeki wrestlers, Bulgarian Kotooshu (9-5) prevailed over Estonian Baruto (10-4) with a beltless arm throw as both men went flying over the edge.
Sekiwake Kakuryu manhandled Takekaze (7-7) to pick up a ninth win.
Meanwhile, Brazilian-born Kaisei (5-8) suffered his fourth straight defeat at the hands of little-man Toyonoshima, who improved to 8-6.
The Nagoya meet is the first regular tournament in six months following a match-fixing scandal that broke in February that shook Japan’s ancient, revered sport to its very core.