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Kotoshogiku shocks Harumafuji to home in on prize

Kyodo

Ozeki Kotoshogiku floored Harumafuji on Thursday to complete a clean sweep of yokozuna and retain sole possession of the lead heading into the final straight at the New Year Grand Tournament.

Kotoshogiku (12-0), whose sensational form here has put him in position to become the first Japanese-born wrestler in a decade to win a championship title, remained one win ahead of Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho.

Fukuoka-born Kotoshogiku looked fired up right from the off in the day’s penultimate bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan. He quickly worked Harumafuji (10-2) against the straw ridge and finished the yokozuna off with a “tsukiotoshi” thrust-down maneuver.

“I did what I had to do and gave everything I had,” said Kotoshogiku, who is not getting carried away by all the talk of him fighting for the first title in his career.

“I’m getting calmer every passing day. I’ve come through tough times so I’d like to have the mindset to enjoy this. I just have to win a battle with myself.”

Kotoshogiku faces seventh-ranked maegashira Toyonoshima on Friday. He is 26-12 in the head-to-head series between the two at grand tournaments.

Toyonoshima moved into double digits at 10-2, forcing Chinese-born grappler Sokokurai (6-6) out to snap his five-match winning streak.

Hakuho got his bid for a record-extending 36th Emperor’s Cup back on track, the Mongolian rebounding from his defeat to Kotoshogiku on Wednesday by pulling down struggling ozeki Goeido (4-8).

Kakuryu (9-3) was all business in the day’s last bout, the yokozuna wasting little time in charging out sekiwake Tochiozan (5-7).

Ozeki Kisenosato moved within one win of a winning record at 7-5 after heaving out Brazilian No. 3 maegashira Kaisei (3-9).

Eighth-ranked maegashira Takayasu (9-3) saw his slim title hopes all but end when he was easily barged out to a third defeat by 12th-ranked Shodai (8-4), who secured a winning record on his debut in the makuuchi division.

“I’m really happy,” said former college yokozuna Shodai. “I wanted to get a winning record as early as I could and be able to relax after that.”

Top-ranked maegashira Aminishiki, the makuuchi division’s elder statesman, upset newly promoted 33-year-old sekiwake Yoshikaze (6-6) to improve his record (5-6-1). Aminishiki missed two bouts due to influenza.