FUKUOKA – Kisenosato took one giant step toward gaining promotion to ozeki with a thrashing of Tochinowaka on the 14th day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
Needing to win his final two bouts at the 15-day meet for a realistic shot at sumo’s second highest rank, Kisenosato kept his cool as he plugged Tochinowaka (7-7) with a salvo of hard thrusts before sending his No. 4 maegashira opponent fleeing over the edge into the ringside seats to improve to 10-4 at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Sekiwake Kisenosato posted 22 wins over the last two basho. Under the Japan Sumo Association’s loosely defined guidelines, 33 wins over three consecutive tournaments are the minimum requirement for promotion to ozeki.
Meanwhile, with his 21st career Emperor’s Cup already in the bag, yokozuna Hakuho almost paid the price for an overzealous charge on ozeki Harumafuji (8-6), but remained undefeated with a perfect 14-0 record.
In the day’s final bout, the lone yokozuna came low out of the crouch and got a firm grip on his opponent’s mawashi as he quickly moved forward.
Harumafuji was sent flying into the front row seats as the yokozuna followed the ozeki over the ridge while touching one hand to the dohyo surface but there were no objections from the judges.
Hakuho has won back-to-back titles here and is one trophy away from matching former yokozuna Takanohana for career titles.
His closest rivals at the 15-day meet are rank-and-filers Wakakoyu and Aoiyama, who defeated Brazilian Kaisei (5-9) and former ozeki Miyabiyama (10-4), respectively, to improve to 11-3.
Ozeki debutant Kotoshogiku (10-4), who hails from Fukuoka, got a boisterous roar from the sellout crowd after snapping a four-bout losing skid with a textbook frontal force-out of Toyonoshima, who dropped to 9-5.
In an all-ozeki matchup, Estonian Baruto tossed down Bulgarian Kotooshu (8-6) with an underarm throw after a short exchange from the two European wrestlers, improving his mark to 10-4.