NAGOYA – Kisenosato stayed on course in his promotion bid for yokozuna with a royal smackdown of Tokitenku on the second day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Yokozuna Hakuho, who has won the previous two tournaments with perfect 15-0 marks, extended his winning streak to 32 bouts, albeit in an oxygen-draining matchup against top-ranked maegashira Takayasu at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
Kisenosato (2-0), aiming to become the first Japanese-born yokozuna since Takanohana retired in January 2003, wasted little sweat on Tokitenku (0-2), getting his right hand around the outside of the komusubi’s mawashi before flinging him to the dohyo surface.
Kisenosato went 13-2 at the summer basho in May, remaining undefeated until his loss to Hakuho on the penultimate day. His other loss came against rival ozeki Kotoshogiku on the final day.
The Naruto ozeki’s first order of business is to go 8-0 over the first week. Gaining promotion to sumo’s highest rank will require that he win the title, or come very close.
Hakuho had to work for nearly 30 seconds against Takayasu (0-2) after his opponent switched grips to gain leverage. The yokozuna, however, would not be denied as he used his left hand in a rapid-fire-swinging motion to maneuver his opponent off-balance before crushing him over the edge.
The Mongolian yokozuna needs eight more consecutive wins to make him the first wrestler since the start of the Showa Era to post two 40-win streaks. A championship in Nagoya will make Hakuho the first foreign-born wrestler to win 26 career titles.
Rival yokozuna Harumafuji, whose form has been inconsistent since making his yokozuna debut at last year’s Kyushu meet, bulldozed Takekaze (0-2) in the day’s final bout to also get a second win.
Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (2-0) made mincemeat of Tochiozan (1-1), drilling the No. 2 maegashira hard at the tachiai before upending his opponent.
Kotooshu, who had a subpar 8-7 mark in May, has been at sumo’s second highest rank the longest of the active ozeki wrestlers and appears determined to derail Kisenosato’s hopes for promotion if he can help it.
Kakuryu bounced back from a first day loss, sending the roly-poly Gagamaru (0-2) sprawling to the dirt with an overarm throw, when the bigger man careened forward after the tachiai.
Kotoshogiku (2-0) made it 4-for-4 for the ozeki rikishi, bumping out Shohozan (0-2).
Chinese national Sokokurai, who was fired due to accusations of bout-rigging in 2011 but reinstated in April this year after a court ruled his dismissal invalid, is still trying to shake off the rust of his two-year absence. He fell to his second consecutive defeat, taking a beating by Tamaasuka.