FUKUOKA – Osunaarashi became the first wrestler from Africa to wrestle in sumo’s elite makuuchi division on Sunday, but was taught a lesson on his first day of school at the 15-day Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
In the day’s second match at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, the 21-year-old Egyptian learned first-hand from fellow No. 15 maegashira Shotenro that superior strength alone is not enough to thrive at the top. Osunaarashi seized the initiative at the charge and backed Shotenro to the edge of the ring but could not finish him off.
Shotenro, a 31-year-old Mongolian, turned the tables and backed Osunaarashi to the edge of the straw. Although he, too, was unable to force his opponent out, the Mongolian executed an armlock throw that sent Osunaarashi toppling to the dirt for his first loss among the big boys.
At the top of the food chain, yokozuna Hakuho’s pursuit of his 28th career championship began with a quick victory over Okinoumi. The komusubi put up a fight but was forced out with a minimum of fuss. Hakuho’s total of career championships currently trails only Chiyonofuji’s 31 titles and the legendary Taiho’s 32.
In the day’s penultimate bout, embattled yokozuna Harumafuji unleashed a strong charge on Shohozan, spun the hesitant komusubi around and pushed him out from behind. Harumafuji is coming off a 10-5 record in which he was dogged by injuries.
The ozeki ranks got off to a disappointing start as two of the four fell on the first day of action.
Ozeki Kotooshu, who needs eight wins to maintain his rank, momentarily staved off defeat with a gritty energetic effort before No. 2 maegashira Toyonoshima sent him tumbling with a beltless arm throw. Kotooshu is coming off an injury in the September tournament that prevented him from winning eight matches.
Kakuryu dispatched No. 2 maegashira Kyokutenho, while local hero Kotoshogiku disappointed his noisy fans when he was sent sprawling in the blink of an eye by top maegashira Aminishiki. After a raucous welcome to the ring, the Fukuoka-born ozeki sprinted out of the blocks. Aminishiki, who dodged the brunt of the charge, knocked Kotoshogiku off balance and yanked him out of the ring by the arm.
Kisenosato showed patience and skill as he absorbed the initial charge of top maegashira Myogiryu, wore him down and pushed him out.