FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Kisenosato suffered his third straight upset at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday, losing to rank-and-file wrestler Hokutofuji in the final bout of Day 3.
The loss against the No. 1 maegashira ratcheted up the pressure on the home-grown yokozuna, who remains winless since starting the 15-day tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center as the sole grand champion.
With Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho and Kakuryu absent due to injuries, expectations had risen for Kisenosato prior to his disastrous start.
The yokozuna gave his opponent a strong shove at the opening impact, but seemed to lack power from the problematic left side of his upper body as the bout progressed.
With both wrestlers thrusting and shoving one another in the center of the ring, Hokutofuji knocked Kisenosato back with a palm to the throat before thrusting him down to the clay.
The victory earned Hokutofuji a fifth career kimboshi prize for beating a yokozuna.
The poor start is likely to fuel speculation about another withdrawal for the injury plagued Kisenosato, who made a successful comeback with a 10-5 record at the Autumn Grand Tournament in September.
Ozeki Takayasu stayed perfect with a slap-down win over komusubi Kaisei (0-1-2), who sat out the first two days with a leg injury. Takayasu evaded an attempted belt grip by the big Brazilian before sending him to the ground with a slap to the back.
No. 2 maegashira Tochiozan stayed undefeated by upsetting ozeki Goeido (1-2) with a well-executed beltless arm throw.
Georgian ozeki Tochinoshin improved to 2-1 with a slapdown against No. 1 Myogiryu.