NAGOYA – Yokozuna Asashoryu dominated komusubi Tamanoshima for a first-day victory at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.
The Mongolian powerhouse pulverized his rival in day’s final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium to kick-start his campaign to claim his fourth consecutive Emperor’s Cup at the 15-day meet.
But newly promoted sekiwake Hokutoriki got off to a demoralizing start after he was slammed to the dirt in a loss to Kotonowaka after his impressive 13-2 showing at the summer meet in May.
In Sunday’s premier bout, the yokozuna had the upper hand throughout before hemming up Tamanoshima’s arms and grinding him over the edge for a convincing victory.
The fiery grand champion beat Hokutoriki in a playoff to claim his third straight title in May and will be seeking to capture his eighth overall Emperor’s Cup with a victory in Nagoya.
Asashoryu, who also finished with a 13-2 record at the summer meet, also has a chance to become the first wrestler and ninth overall to win four straight basho since the championship system was established in the summer of 1909.
Kotonowaka, a second-ranked maegashira, read Hokutoriki like a book as he employed a deft overarm throw for a comfortable victory over the sekiwake.
In other key bouts, ozeki Chiyotaikai could not force Kyokutenho over with his trademark thrusts and had to settle for a quick slap down for a win over the top maegashira.
But ozeki Kaio was the victim of a relentless charge from in-form komusubi Kotomitsuki, who moved swiftly ahead with a volley of strong shoves for an easy victory.
Chiyotaikai and Kaio, both previous candidates for yokozuna, are looking to improve on their records of 9-6 and 10-5 last time out.
Musoyama tussled for leverage against Iwakiyama but lost the battle when the sixth-ranked maegashira twisted the ozeki down to a first-day defeat.
Musoyama, who went 6-9 at the Tokyo meet, must notch eight or more wins to keep his rank.
Meanwhile, Kokkai, a No. 2 maegaishira from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, never gave Wakanosato a chance to get rolling as he sent the sekiwake reeling back and over the edge with a series of fierce thrusts to the chest.
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