NAGOYA – Kisenosato got his yokozuna promotion bid back on track after suffering his first defeat a day earlier, steamrolling komusubi Shohozan on the fourth day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
Hakuho, who is gunning to become the first foreign-born wrestler with 26 career titles, shares the lead at 4-0 with ozeki pair Kotooshu and Kotoshogiku as well as Brazilian rank-and-filer Kaisei at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
A battle cry from a man in the crowd right before the tachiai might have given the Naruto ozeki the resolve he needed, and Kisenosato responded with a vicious salvo of slaps to knock winless Shohozan over the ridge in a matter of seconds.
Kisenosato was unbeaten in a dead heat with Hakuho until losing to the yokozuna on the penultimate day of the summer basho. He was deemed worthy of a promotion run after finishing with an outstanding 13-2 mark.
A successful promotion bid will make him the first Japanese-born wrestler to reach sumo’s highest rank since Takanohana’s retirement in January 2003.
Yokozuna Harumafuji (3-1) also rebounded from his loss a day earlier, swatting down big man Gagamaru (0-4).
Hakuho, who is seeking his third consecutive title, extended his winning streak to 34 with a lightning speed arm-bar throw of Tochiozan (2-2), who beat Kisenosato on Tuesday. The yokozuna needs six more wins in succession to make him the first wrestler since the start of the Showa Era to have two 40-win streaks.
Kakuryu (3-1) dodged a bullet when Myogiryu (2-2) came charging like gangbusters out of the crouch, flanking his opponent on the edge at the last moment to win with a thrust-down technique.
Kotoshogiku, who beat Kisenosato for his only other defeat on the final day of the summer meet, stayed on his juggernaut pace, manhandling Chiyotairyu (3-1) to remain in a share of the lead.
Kotooshu broke little sweat in muscling out winless Takekaze.
The Bulgarian ozeki has been at sumo’s second highest rank the longest of the active ozeki and seems determined more than ever — with the prospect of Kisenosato surpassing him — of derailing his rival’s promotion bid.
Sekiwake Goeido finally got into the winner’s column, deploying a frontal force-out against winless Tokitenku.
In an early bout, Chinese 15th-ranked Sokokurai (1-3) was sent packing over the edge by Kaisei.
The Chinese wrestler was fired due to accusations of bout rigging in 2011 but reinstated in April this year after a court ruled his dismissal invalid.