Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho put on another sumo clinic against Russian grappler Aran on Friday as the leading pack narrowed down to two on the sixth day of action at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho oozed class in the day’s finale, pulling free from a bear hug to methodically work Aran (3-3) toward the straw bales and out with a routine shove.
Hakuho, who is seeking his sixth straight Emperor’s Cup and 18th overall title here, and rank-and-filer Tochinonada led the way at 6-0 on a day when ozeki pair Kaio and Harumafuji both tasted upset defeats.
Ozeki Kotooshu and Baruto are one win back with sekiwake Kotoshogiku and veteran maegashira Wakanosato.
Kaio, who rolled back the years with a vintage 12-3 performance in front of his home fans in Kyushu in November, looked to be in a good position to take a fifth win here but hit the dirt after being thrown off balance in his match with popular maegashira Homasho. Both men have 4-2 marks.
Harumafuji was next to go south, the Mongolian crashing to consecutive defeats after being blasted out by third-ranked Tamawashi (3-3).
Harumafuji, the wrestler formerly known as Ama, is fighting with his ozeki rank on the line for the first time after withdrawing from the Kyushu tourney with an ankle injury.
“I am really pleased I got a good charge and was able to continue the momentum after that,” said Tamawashi. “I’ll try and win each bout and get a majority of victories.”
Bulgarian bruiser Kotooshu (5-1) stopped the rot for ozeki when he tossed down winless Georgian No. 2 maegashira Tochinoshin with an “uwatedashinage” pulling overarm throw.
Estonian bulldozer Baruto picked up his fifth win in succession to stay in touch with the leaders, bringing komusubi Tochiozan (2-4) to his knees with an armlock throw in the day’s penultimate bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Elsewhere, Kisenosato did his utmost to keep Kotoshogiku at bay in an all-sekiwake showdown, but ran out of steam after thrice repelling Kotoshogiku’s charges and dropped two wins behind the leading duo.
Toyonoshima’s miserable start to the tournament showed no sign of abating as the top-ranked maegashira came off second best in a slugfest with Mongolian komusubi Kakuryu (2-4) and slumped to a fifth defeat.
Hampered by back pains in the lead up to the 15-day tournament, Toyonoshima has looked a pale shadow of the wrestler who came close to the title with a 14-1 record in Kyushu. He has not won since stunning Baruto on the opening day.
In an earlier bout, 16th-ranked Tochinonada had little trouble in dealing with Koryu, getting both arms wrapped around the No. 12 maegashira before sending him sprawling to the sandy surface to stay perfect. Koryu dropped to 3-3.
Onetime sekiwake Wakanosato came storming out of his crouch but was unable to follow through on a barrage of slaps and thrusts and was backed out to a first defeat by eighth-ranked Kitataiki (4-2).
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