NAGOYA – Yokozuna Hakuho suffered a stunning defeat on Friday to fall back into a three-way tie for the lead with an 11-2 record at the 15-day Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho had won his last three bouts against Kisenosato (9-4) and entered with a 35-10 career advantage over the ozeki. The yokozuna appeared to be in complete control of the bout, with his opponent back against the straw. But as he maneuvered to force the ozeki out, Hakuho was felled by a last-gasp armlock throw.
Instead of having clear sailing toward his 30th championship, Hakuho fell into a share of the lead at 11-2 with ozeki Kotoshogiku and No. 11 maegashira Takayasu. Some of the drama at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium will be settled on Saturday, when Kotoshogiku takes on Takayasu.
Hakuho unleashed a fierce charge on his longtime rival but was denied the belt hold he covets. Despite that, the yokozuna easily shoved Kisenosato from one end of the ring to the other with the ozeki barely managing to stay in the match. With the yokozuna going for his belt in order to force him out at ring’s edge, Kisenosato got enough leverage on Hakuho’s arm to send him down first.
Yokozuna Kakuryu, who began the day with a 10-2 record, was defeated by his nemesis, yokozuna Harumafuji.
In their all-yokozuna clash, Harumafuji (9-4) showed the kind of speed and decisive action that originally earned him his elite ranking as he forced out Kakuryu. Harumafuji attacked his Mongolian countryman’s right shoulder on his charge, got behind Kakuryu, spun him about and shoved him from the ring with a minimum of exertion.
It was Harumafuji’s 24th victory over Kakuryu in 35 career bouts. Kakuryu’s slim chances of a title in Nagoya now rest on the result of his Saturday clash with Hakuho, who has beaten him in 31 of their 35 career bouts.
Kotoshogiku got the better of 22-year-old wild card Osunaarashi to remain in the hunt.
Osunaarashi, whose wins over a pair of yokozuna early in the tournament have had a major impact on the championship race, failed to cause more chaos in his first clash with Kotoshogiku, who won with a fast and accurate charge on the tachiai.
Kotoshogiku forced the Egyptian back while holding Osunaarashi’s powerful right arm in check, and exploited his initiative by shoving his unusually hesitant opponent out to his seventh defeat.
Veteran sekiwake Goeido (10-3) kept his slim hopes of a championship alive by beating No. 4 maegashira Takekaze (8-5) for the 12th time in 18 career bouts.
Takekaze sidestepped Goeido on the opening charge to try to bring the sekiwake down with a henka maneuver and looked out of ideas when he failed. Goeido overshot his mark but retained his balance, pivoted and shoved the surprised Takekaze out.