NAGOYA – Kaio snatched victory from the jaws of defeat Sunday as he shunted out ozeki rival and overnight co-leader Chiyotaikai to capture the Emperor’s Cup with a 12-3 record on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
In an explosive finale at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Kaio managed to smother Chiyotaikai’s attempts to unleash his trademark arm thrusts but was unable to counter and found himself teetering on the edge of the ring.
But the 32-year-old Tomozuna stable grappler, who has been plagued with lower back injuries, dug deep into his energy reserves and stormed back to send Chiyotaikai backpedaling to the other side of the dohyo and over the straw bales.
It was Kaio’s fourth win in as many meetings with Chiyotaikai (11-4) and earned him his first title since the 2001 Nagoya meet and fourth overall.
“I’ve won here and I’m delighted to be able to do so after such a long barren stretch,” said Kaio.
“I’ve had injuries and not always been able to wrestle as well as I know I can. But it was do or die today and I knew I had to pull out all the stops,” he added.
In other bouts, ozeki Musoyama wrapped up the tournament on a winning note after grinding out a hard-fought victory over fifth-ranked maegashira Tosanoumi as both men finished in a group of seven makuuchi division wrestlers with 10-5 records.
Mongolian No. 9 maegashira Asasekiryu (10-5) floored former ozeki Miyabiyama (10-5) to notch his seventh straight win.
Elvis Presley lookalike Toki also finished the 15-day basho with double-digit victories after defeating komusubi Tochinonada (7-8), as did seventh-ranked Hokutoriki, who pulled down Kasuganishiki (9-6).
But ozeki Tochiazuma’s poor form showed no signs of letting up as he was stung for an eighth defeat at the hands of sekiwake Wakanosato (10-5).
Crowd pleaser Takamisakari (9-6), a No. 3 maegashira did his best “Terminator” impression and dismantled Tokitsuumi with a well-worked twisting overarm throw to complete a superb showing at Nagoya.
Takamisakari, who defeated yokozuna duo Asashoryu, Musashimaru and two ozeki here, claimed his first Outstanding Performance Prize, one of three prizes awarded to makuuchi division wrestlers by the Japan Sumo Association on the final day of a tournament.
“This is great. I thought it would be nice to get this prize but I had no idea I’d won it,” said Takamisakari.
“Beating Asashoryu was the highlight of the tournament for me,” added the Azumazeki stable wrestler, whose bizarre pre-bout antics have won him an ever-increasing following.
Tokitsuumi (9-6), who had been in the a share of the tournament lead with three days left, won the Technique Prize.
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