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Kisenosato suffers defeat on tournament’s first day

Kyodo

Ozeki Kisenosato’s second bid at yokozuna promotion crash landed before it even got off the runway after a lopsided defeat on the opening day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Kisenosato, who beat both yokozuna and finished with an impressive 13-2 mark in November, once again showed his all-too-familiar tendency to crumble under pressure as he was dumped by his diminutive opponent in the day’s penultimate match.

Yokozuna Hakuho, made mincemeat of Tochiozan in the day’s finale in front of a sellout crowd at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Kisenosato was in troubled waters from the start when he let Toyonoshima get an arm deftly under his left elbow, and when the ozeki readjusted his arm position and tried to charge forward he was sent sprawling with a perfectly timed overarm throw.

“I tried not to think about how I was wrestling and just got into the ring. I want to fight the way I did today tomorrow as well,” said Toyonoshima, who faces Hakuho on Monday.

The loss for Kisenosato left a bad impression, to say the least, as the Tagonoura ozeki has been given the rough directive of winning the tournament with no fewer than 13 victories.

Hakuho gave Tochiozan a shove to the chest for poor manners when the komusubi made one false start. Then he pounded his opponent over the edge with a salvo of thrusts after the yokozuna’s failed attempt at an armlock maneuver.

The victory was Hakuho’s 706th in the elite makuuchi division and his 800th career win, third on the all-time list.

Kotoshogiku made a razor-sharp jump at the tachiai, getting his right hand quickly around the mawashi before bumping out Chiyotairyu in a matter of seconds. The Sadogatake ozeki needs a majority of wins to remain at sumo’s second-highest rank.

Kakuryu was the other ozeki casualty as he was upended by Okinoumi.

Kotooshu, who has fallen to the third-highest rank of sekiwake, kept a low center of gravity as he bulldozed Toyohibiki in a textbook frontal force-out maneuver.

The Bulgarian giant who needs 10 wins here for a return to ozeki, is recovering from a dislocated shoulder and still struggles from chronic knee problems.

Yokozuna Harumafuji is sidelined with an ankle injury, meaning Kisenosato will be forced to wrestle even more of the rank-and-filers before an expected showdown with Hakuho on the final day.

In an early bout, Kyokushuho was left a bloody mess after splitting open the area near his left eyebrow when he clashed heads with Chiyootori, but the No. 13 maegashira emerged the winner by yorikiri.