Ozeki Tochiazuma accomplished the improbable and defeated yokozuna Asashoryu to capture his second career title at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.
Both wrestlers appeared to have a bout of jitters as they prepared in the pre-bout ritual at Fukuoka Kokusai Center in the day’s finale, but it was Tochiazuma who proved his mettle to win his first Emperor’s Cup in 11 basho.
Until Sunday, the yokozuna and ozeki were dead even in career bouts at 5-5 but that all changed as Tochiazuma won the bout to finish the 15-day meet at 13-2.
The Mongolian grand champion, who was gunning for his second straight title and fifth overall, came in low off the initial charge but the ozeki never budged and rammed Asashoryu back and over the edge.
Tochiazuma, who pumped his fists and yelled out in delight, knocked the yokozuna to his third defeat to claim his first title since the 2002 Summer meet.
“It was yokozuna Asashoryu; so I knew I had to give my all,” said Tochiazuma. “I just came in low and kept going forward. It has been a tough and hard journey but I have all my fans to thank. I was able to win the championship today and now I’m truly happy.”
Elsewhere in an all-ozeki encounter, Chiyotaikai (10-5), who had been in the running for the title until Saturday, had a rumble with Kaio but sent him sprawling to the dirt to his fifth defeat. The pair grappled and twisted for leverage until Kaio (10-5) finally slammed his opponent down for the victory.
Third-ranked maegashira Tamanoshima (10-5) won his third Fighting Spirit Prize when he swatted down No. 14 maegashira Dejima, who had been in contention for the cup honors until the penultimate day and ended on 11-4.
Tosanoumi deployed a beltless armthrow on top maegashira Tochinonada (8-7) to pick up his seventh Outstanding Performance Prize with his 10th win of the tournament.
Sekiwake Wakanosato, who had been gunning for ozeki promotion going into Fukuoka, was dumped to his eighth loss by ozeki Musoyama and will have to start anew at a lower rank at the New Year’s meet.
In other major bouts, sixth-ranked maegashira Tokitsuumi (8-7) made quick work of Kotoryu, ramming out the seventh-ranked maegashira in a matter of seconds to secure a winning record. Kotoryu finished at 7-8 for a losing mark.
Judges called a rematch in Kyokushuzan’s bout against Yotsukasa when the first bout was too close to call and fifth-ranked maegashira failed miserably on the second asking to leave him at 8-7.
Yotsukasa (9-6), a 15th-ranked maegashira, read the Mongolian trickster like a book and hoisted him out after Kyokushuzan jumped high in the air after the face-off.
Crowd favorite Takamisakari had a disappointing finish at 5-10 after being steamrolled over the ridge by Aminishiki, who also completed his campaign at 5-10.
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