OSAKA – Endo got the biggest win of his young career, beating ozeki Kisenosato Thursday to emerge from a dark tunnel after four straight days of defeats against the top echelon at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
Undefeated yokozuna pair Hakuho and Harumafuji are still in charge as both banged out wins to share the lead with surprise package Osunaarashi at 5-0.
Ozeki Kakuryu, meanwhile, kept his yokozuna bid alive with a bulldozing of winless Tamawashi, remaining one off the pace in a group of nine wrestlers, including Kisenosato and fellow ozeki Kotoshogiku at 4-1, at Bodymaker Colosseum.
With fans from his native Ishikawa Prefecture cheering him on from the crowd, Endo got a quick jump at the tachiai and throttled the ozeki by the neck with his left hand.
Kisenosato countered with slaps and thrusts to move the top-ranked maegashira to the edge, but Endo spun left at the last second to jettison his opponent.
“I don’t believe I won,” said Endo, who had blood above his left eye. “I was determined to hit him hard at the tachiai and not worry about trying to grab his mawashi. I was able to smack him one more time after I retreated,” he said.
Endo had suffered defeats against both yokozuna and two ozeki before his triumph against Kisenosato. “I am really thankful the fans came out to cheer for me today.”
Harumafuji, who missed the entire New Year basho with a foot injury, made short work of Okinoumi (2-3), blasting his opponent back with a supercharged thrusting attack before sending him sprawling with a tsukiotoshi maneuver.
In the day’s finale, Hakuho grappled Toyonoshima (2-3) once near the edge before getting his left hand on the front of the mawashi and his left hand over his opponent’s shoulder for a perfect yorikiri frontal force out.
Kotoshogiku rammed out Brazilian Kaisei, who dropped to 1-4.
Sekiwake Goeido, who is hoping to make a run at ozeki with a strong showing in Osaka, had the backing of his hometown fans behind him but failed with a half-baked frontal attack against Tochiozan (3-2) and was sent packing to a first loss.
Bulgarian Kotooshu (1-4), fighting for the second straight meet at sekiwake after his demotion from ozeki, suffered his fourth loss in a row as he touched his hand to the dohyo surface right after the faceoff in an anemic display against Shohozan (1-4).
Osunaarashi, sumo’s first African-born rikishi, manhandled Takarafuji (3-2), circling his opponent from the right side as he dumped him over the ridge by okuritaoshi.
The Egyptian, whose name means “big sandstorm,” is brimming with confidence in his third appearance in the elite makuuchi division as the only undefeated maegashira after five days.
Veteran Kyokutenho (4-1), who will be 40 this September, heaved Takekaze (3-2) over the straw bales with an arm-immobilizing kimedashi technique to give him his 873rd career win. He surpassed sumo great Taiho to sit alone in fifth on the all-time list.
Chiyomaru, who joined the top division this tournament in the footsteps of his younger brother Chiyootori who debuted in the makuuchi in January, stayed in a dead heat with his sibling at 4-1 after beating Jokoryu (3-2).
Chiyootori deployed an underarm throw in a lengthy, 1 minute, 13.1-second bout against Takayasu (2-3).