FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Harumafuji beat rival Hakuho in what turned out to be an anticlimactic finale between wrestlers tied at 13-1 to win his sixth career title at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.
Harumafuji (14-1) bolted quickly to the left of Hakuho and moved in for the kill but the match was over just when it was getting under way when his opponent’s heel inadvertently went over the ridge at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Hakuho (13-2), who was aiming for his 28th career title and fifth straight, dropped his second straight bout after his loss to Kisenosato on Saturday.
The showdown between the two yokozuna was over so fast, Harumafuji said he thought it was he who had mistakenly stepped out since Hakuho appeared to ease off the pressure.
“I gave it all of my spirit,” said Harumafuji, who won his first championship since the New Year basho in January. “I didn’t even know (that he had stepped out). During the match, he suddenly eased off, so I thought I must’ve stepped out. I was like, ‘darn it!’ Later I was relieved,” he said, drawing laughs from the crowd.
He defeated Hakuho in a match between tied wrestlers on the final day for the first time since the 2012 Nagoya basho, when as an ozeki he beat his rival in a matchup between undefeated wrestlers. Hakuho, who dominated early in the meet only to falter at the end, failed to become the second wrestler after yokozuna legend Taiho to win five straight tournaments twice.
“I’ve had to overcome many injuries but it is because of all the support I’ve received and the fans that I could win the title,” said Harumafuji.
Kisenosato (13-2) put in another domineering performance, getting his left hand around the mawashi of rival ozeki Kakuryu (9-6) before powering him over the edge by yorikiri.
Kisenosato beat both yokozuna at this tournament, and his win over Hakuho on the penultimate day was probably his most convincing against the yokozuna to date.
The ozeki, who is likely to make another bid at sumo’s highest rank at the New Year basho, only lost to Aminishiki and sekiwake Goeido at the 15-day meet.
In an all-sekiwake encounter, Tochiozan (7-8) outflanked Goeido (8-7) to chase his opponent out from behind after the pair grappled momentarily in the center of the ring.
Chiyotairyu blasted out Kyokushuho (8-7) to pick up his 11th victory and won his first Technique Prize.
Osunaarashi, the first African-born rikishi, huffed and puffed but his arm strength alone was not enough to take out heavyweight Kaisei (7-8), who forced the Egyptian out by yorikiri.
Osunaarashi, a No. 15 maegashira, finished his debut in the elite class just short of a winning record at 7-8.