Harumafuji, the winner of November’s Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, opened the first day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament with a textbook victory on Sunday.
The Mongolian, who has been inconsistent since his promotion to sumo’s highest rank of yokozuna, quickly got one hand on Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin’s throat before finishing him with an overarm throw in the day’s final bout at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Yokozuna Hakuho began the pursuit of his 36th career championship by surviving a scare when his right heel crossed over the straw ridge but did not brush the surface as he was in the process of spinning komusubi Ikioi down to the surface. Lacking his typical fluid, powerful movement, Hakuho looked vulnerable but survived.
Yokozuna Kakuryu slapped aside new sekiwake Yoshikaze after short, spirited challenge. The win avenged Yoshikaze’s opening day victory in November.
Ozeki Kisenosato, looking to end 10 years without a Japanese wrestler winning a grand sumo title by claiming his first, was fooled badly on the tachiai by Aminishiki. The top-ranked maegashira got off the mark quicker and was pressing down on Kisenosato’s shoulders in a heartbeat. The ozeki could do nothing but stumble forward to defeat. Aminishiki’s win was his 17th in 48 career matches against Kisenosato.
Their first try was declared a draw when Kisenosato hurled Aminishiki from the ring but hit the surface in the process, and the ozeki looked completely unprepared for a do-over.
Goeido had gotten the ozeki wrestlers off to a winning start, after being pushed backward on the tachiai by Aoiyama. But the Bulgarian No. 2 maegashira overextended himself in trying to push the reeling Goeido from the ring. The ozeki regained his balance and dodged to one side as Aoiyama hurled himself out. Goeido improved his record against Aoiyama to 14-3.
Kotoshogiku made it 2-0 for the ozeki, with a workmanlike win over No. 2 maegashira Takarafuji, who crumbled to the surface to bring their match to a premature end.
Shohozan, who climbed nine places in the rankings to No. 1 maegashira after going 12-3 in November, backed much-larger ozeki Terunofuji to the straw but couldn’t muscle him over. Despite both knees being braced and taped, the ozeki was able to keep his 177-cm opponent in front of him, pin his arms and force him out.
Shodai, one of two wrestlers making his makuuchi debut, got off to an auspicious start after appearing to be on the losing end of the initial charge. November’s juryo division champion, Shodai maintained his balance after being knocked backward and defeated fellow No. 12 maegashira Chiyotairyu with a beltless arm throw.
Fifth-ranked maegashira Osunaarashi is suffering from a damaged left meniscus that will require roughly a month of treatment.
The Japan Sumo Association announced Sunday that the Egyptian’s Otake stable had submitted a diagnosis of the wrestler’s condition. Osunaarashi had been scratched from the opening bouts of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, which started Sunday.
According to a source from his stable, the 23-year-old will likely miss the entire tournament, which would see him drop into the second-tier juryo division in March. Osunaarashi missed the last two days of November’s Kyushu basho and had surgery on Dec. 4.