FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Hakuho defeated rank-and-filer Hokutoriki on Thursday, continuing to stay hot in pursuit of his third consecutive title at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
In the day’s final, Hakuho took his time against Hokutoriki, keeping a tight right-handed grip on the No. 3 maegashira’s mawashi and carefully muscling him over the edge to improve to 4-1 at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Hokutoriki slipped to 1-4.
After suffering an opening-day defeat to Aminishiki, Hakuho is firmly in the driver’s seat and sits just one behind co-leaders Miyabiyama and Dejima at the 15-day meet.
Hakuho, who won his eighth career Emperor’s Cup at the autumn meet in September, is the strong favorite to take the home tournament silverware in the absence of yokozuna rival Asashoryu.
Asashoryu is sitting out the tourney with an injured left elbow but is preparing to make his comeback at the New Year meet in Tokyo, where he is likely to be wrestling with his career on the line.
Back in the ring, Kotomitsuki was the lone victim at ozeki while Kotooshu and Chiyotaikai pulled off wins for sumo’s second-highest rank.
Bulgarian Kotooshu bounced back from two straight losses, toppling Tochinoshin (1-4) on the edge to improve to a 2-3 mark, while Chiyotaikai steamrolled komusubi Goeido (1-4) in a matter of seconds to move to 3-2.
But Kotomitsuki was sent sprawling to the dirt at the hands of Toyonoshima after the No. 1 maegashira deployed an under-shoulder swing technique to leave his opponent at 3-2 while improving to 4-1.
Mongolian sekiwake Ama, who is bidding for promotion to ozeki, snapped a two-day losing skid, pulling down winless Futeno with an arm bar throw for a third win despite losing his balance falling to the sandy surface in the process.
Under sumo’s loose guidelines, a wrestler needs a 33 wins in three straight tournaments to gain promotion to ozeki, meaning Ama needs at least 11 wins here.
Baruto, a newly promoted sekiwake from Estonia, took out former sekiwake Wakanosato with an overarm throw with his back to the edge, leaving both men at 3-2.
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