Kotoshogiku maintains place among lead pack


Kotoshogiku’s bid for consecutive titles and a move up to sumo’s ultimate rank of yokozuna continued to gather pace as the ozeki posted a fourth win at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

Kotoshogiku never gave komusubi Takarafuji (1-3) a chance as he came bursting out of his crouch with all guns blazing at Edion Arena Osaka. Kotoshogiku followed through as Takarafuji teetered on the edge of the ring to headline a group of six sharing the lead at 4-0.

All three Mongolian yokozuna — Hakuho, Kakuryu and Harumafuji — are in a share for second with 3-1 records.

Kotoshogiku posted a surprise maiden championship at the New Year meet in Tokyo in January and another title will likely see him become the first Japanese-born yokozuna since Wakanohana in 1998.

Hakuho, sumo’s all-time leader with 35 titles, roughed up Okinoumi and went in for dessert with a needless neck thrust after the winless No. 2 maegashira had already stepped over the straw ridge.

Kakuryu had little trouble in posting his third straight win after an opening-day hiccup, hauling down top-ranked maegashira Kotoyuki (3-1). Harumafuji wrapped up the day’s action with a routine winover Takayasu (0-4).