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Kisenosato holds nerve on day of upsets at Spring Basho

Kyodo

Yokozuna debutant Kisenosato burst Sokokurai’s bubble Wednesday to preserve his unbeaten start on a day when two of his main rivals crashed to upset defeats at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kisenosato improved to 4-0 as the only yokozuna yet to taste defeat at the 15-day meet as Kakuryu was saddled with his first loss before Hakuho dropped to 2-2 in another shock at Edion Arena.

Kisenosato shares the early lead with Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji and four other wrestlers.

Sokokurai pulled off Tuesday’s biggest upset by slapping down yokozuna Harumafuji, but the Chinese-born No. 2 maegashira was put firmly in his place in his first meeting with Kisenosato.

Kisenosato worked Sokokurai (1-3) towards the ridge and, with a firm right-handed grip on his belt, calmly sent him out of the dohyo.

Harumafuji rebounded from his defeat to Sokokurai with a no-nonsense yorikiri force-out win against top-ranked maegashira Takekaze, who dropped to 0-4.

But Kakuryu was no match for Kotoshogiku, who got back on the winning trail by charging the yokozuna up against the straw ridge before flooring him with a textbook beltless arm throw.

Kotoshogiku has dropped down to sumo’s third-highest rank of sekwiake after going 5-10 in January. He needs to post at least 10 wins at this tournament to earn a move back up to ozeki for the Summer Basho in May.

Hakuho got muscled out of the ring by top-ranked maegashira Ikioi (1-3) and dropped to 2-2. Although Ikioi’s hand touched the dirt first as both went over the edge, Hakuho took the loss by “shinitai,” a rare event in sumo.

Shinitai, literally meaning dead body, is a term used to describe a wrestler who was not first to fall or touch outside the ring, but who had no chance of winning because of his falling position.

Making his way back after an injury-shortened New Year Basho, Goeido crashed to a third consecutive defeat when he was bundled out of the ring by No. 2 maegashira Takanoiwa, who collected his first win.

But Mongolian bruiser Terunofuji saved face for sumo’s second rank of ozeki, shoving fourth-ranked maegashira Yoshikaze (2-2) out from behind to keep a clean slate and edged closer to keeping his rank.

Terunofuji is starting as a “kadoban” demotion-threatened ozeki for the fourth time and needs a majority of wins to retain his status for the next tournament in May.