NAGOYA – Kisenosato got off to a perfect start in his quest for promotion to yokozuna with a routine win over Takekaze on Sunday, the opening day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
Kisenosato, who is bidding to become the first Japanese-born yokozuna since Takanohana retired in January 2003, was unfazed by two false starts from No. 1 maegashira Takekaze at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
Once the bout finally got under way, the ozeki took control and locked Takekaze up before calmly ushering him out of the dohyo.
Kisenosato had an outstanding summer basho, remaining unbeaten until the penultimate day, when he fell out of his dead heat with yokozuna Hakuho, the eventual champion. Kisenosato’s other defeat was on the final day, to rival ozeki Kotoshogiku.
The Yokozuna Deliberation Council, a powerful advisory body to the Japan Sumo Association, has deemed him worthy of a shot at yokozuna though he is expected to face a rigorous test that might require him to win the title, or at least come very close.
Yokozuna Hakuho and Harumafuji both posted opening-day victories.
Hakuho wasted no time in letting Tokitenku know who’s boss, ripping into the komusubi before both wrestlers careened off the dohyo and into the crowd, with one sumo elder at ringside taking a clattering.
Hakuho is currently on a 31-bout winning streak and nine more wins in succession would make him the first wrestler since the beginning of the Showa Era to register two 40-win streaks. He is also looking to become the first foreign-born wrestler with 26 career championships.
In contrast, Harumafuji, whose form has been erratic since making his yokozuna debut at last year’s Kyushu meet, was less than convincing in his bout with Shohozan, but he did enough to see off the komusubi with a pulling overarm throw.
Elsewhere, Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu claimed European bragging rights by bashing up Georgian No. 2 maegashira Gagamaru.