NAGOYA – Ozeki Harumafuji kicked off his bid for promotion to yokozuna in convincing fashion Sunday, handing out a defeat to Kisenosato on the first day of action at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
After winning a playoff against yokozuna Hakuho for his career first title at the summer meet in May, Harumafuji appears determined to make a serious run for sumo’s ultimate prize with a fresh take-no-prisoners attitude at the 15-day Nagoya meet.
Kisenosato, who has returned to the rank of sekiwake, appeared to have the upper hand when he got a hold of his opponent’s neck and arm and put the ozeki on a merry-go-round spin in the featured bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
But Harumafuji never lost his composure as he held tight with a fierce right-handed grip before recovering to push Kisenosato out, shoving the sekiwake for emphasis after he had broken the barrier.
Hakuho, meanwhile, disposed of Kotoshogiku in a matter of seconds after placing his left hand on the komusubi’s mawashi and firmly escorting his opponent out. Hakuho is seeking his 11th Emperor’s Cup and first in two meets.
In the day’s penultimate bout, yokozuna Asashoryu dispatched komusubi Kyokutenho with a powerful underarm throw.
Asashoryu, who announced his divorce prior to the start of the meet, is struggling with a niggling left-elbow injury and pain in his right side. He is aiming for his career 24th title here.
Ozeki Chiyotaikai traded shoves with Toyohibiki before knocking the No. 2 maegashira forward onto the dirt surface.
Ozeki Kotomitsuki staved off a charge by Tochiozan and flung the No. 2 maegashira over the edge with an overarm throw.
Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu took advantage of a weak initial charge “tachiai” by Russian Aran and scooped up the No. 1 maegashira for a textbook frontal forceout.
Veteran Kaio was the lone ozeki to bite the dust on the opening day after he was sent backpedaling over the edge by Goeido.
In the lower echelon, Estonian Baruto smacked down former ozeki Miyabiyama to pick up a first-day win.