Promotion-chasing ozeki Kisenosato huffed and puffed his way past Okinoumi to stay one win off the pace at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
Hakuho, the tournament favorite in the injury-enforced absence of fellow yokozuna Harumafuji, remained perfect and tied for the lead at 4-0 with sekiwake Goeido. Kisenosato and 10 others are tied at 3-1.
Kisenosato was given a run for his money in the day’s penultimate bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, with No.1 maegashira Okinoumi (2-2) at one point looking like he had the ozeki on the rails after turning the tables near the ring’s edge.
But Kisenosato came roaring back and muscled Okinoumi (2-2) out of the dohyo to keep his latest bid for promotion to yokozuna alive.
Kisenosato, who suffered an upset defeat on the opening day on Sunday, has been given a rough mandate of winning the tournament with no fewer than 13 wins to gain a move up to grand champion. He failed in his first crack at promotion with a string of early defeats last summer at the Nagoya Basho.
In the day’s final bout, Hakuho did his best impression of a brick wall as No. 2 maegashira Chiyotairyu (0-4) ran into the yokozuna at the charge and promptly collapsed in a heap.
Elsewhere in the upper ranks, “kadoban” ozeki Kotoshogiku improved to 2-2 with a default win against komusubi Myogiryu (0-4), who pulled out of the tournament after aggravating an injury he sustained in an opening-day defeat to Aoiyama.
Myogiryu hurt his side against Aoiyama and the pain worsened after Tuesday’s loss to Takekaze.
“Looking at his (Myogiryu’s) situation, I think it will be tough for him (to rejoin the tournament),” said stablemaster Sakaigawa.
Kotoshogiku needs eight wins here to stay at sumo’s second rank for the next tournament.
Kakuryu pulled out a well-worked slap-down win against No. 1 maegashira Toyonoshima (2-2) and is among the chasing pack.
Goeido, who is hoping for another run at ozeki, retained his share of the lead when he slapped around fourth-ranked Takekaze (2-2) and sent him sprawling to the dirt.
Looking for a return to ozeki at the first time of asking with 10 wins here, Bulgarian sekiwake Kotooshu improved to 3-1 when he mowed down winless No. 4 maegashira Aminishiki.