OSAKA – Kotoshogiku’s quest to reach the ultimate rank of yokozuna took a hit with shock first defeat at the hands of second-ranked maegashira Okinoumi on Thursday, the fifth day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
Seeking back-to-back championships that would likely see him promoted to yokozuna, Kotoshogiku came charging forward after the tachiai but went down and touched the dirt just before Okinoumi (1-4) stepped outside the ring at Edion Arena Osaka.
Ringside judges congregated in the ring to review the bout but backed up the referee’s decision to award Okinoumi the win.
“It wasn’t the kind of sumo I was aiming for, but it is a maegashira’s job to try and beat ozeki so in that sense I have got the job done,” said Okinoumi.
“He (Kotoshogiku) had the upper hand at the tachiai. That is what he is good at. I was slow in every department, but I am happy with the result.”
Kotoshogiku posted a surprise maiden championship win at the New Year meet in Tokyo in January but will need to also win the title here to be in with a chance of becoming the first Japanese-born yokozuna since Wakanohana in 1998.
Ozeki Kisenosato and rank-and-filers Ikioi and Ichinojo shared the lead at 5-0, while Kotoshogiku dropped into a group of nine wrestlers including the yokozuna trio of Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu at 4-1.
Harumafuji defeated Georgian No. 2 maegashira Tochinoshin (1-4) with an arm bar throw, and Kakuryu got an almighty scare before seeing off the threat of plucky komusubi Takarafuji (1-4).
Hakuho, the most successful wrestler in sumo history with 35 career championships, rounded off the day’s action with a hard-fought uwatenage win over Bulgarian-born No. 3 maegashira Aoiyama (3-2).
Kisenosato had little trouble in taking out Yoshikaze (1-4), the ozeki bellying out the sekiwake with a textbook yorikiri force-out technique.
Relegation-threatened ozeki Goeido (4-1) had no answer to a barrage of slaps and thrusts and crashed out of a share of the lead after being sent out by No. 1 maegashira Kotoyuki (2-3).
But Mongolian giant Terunofuji, also battling to keep his rank, rebounded from Wednesday’s loss to Ikioi, the ozeki dodging a bullet to take down winless No. 1 maegashira Takayasu at the edge of the ring to improve to 4-1.
Komusubi Tochiozan picked up his first win of the meet, blasting sekiwake Toyonoshima out from behind to leave both grapplers with 1-4 records.