Kisenosato took a big step toward becoming the first Japanese-born winner in over six years Wednesday, beating fellow ozeki Kakuryu on the second attempt to move two wins clear of the field heading into the final stretch of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
Kisenosato, promoted to sumo’s second-highest rank after the Kyushu meet last November, and Kakuryu (7-4) had to go through a rematch after both were deemed by ringside judges to have hit the dirt at the same time in their initial clash at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
But Kisenosato took the initiative in the rerun, putting Kakuryu on the back foot from the tachi-ai and bulldozing him over the straw bales.
Kisenosato improved to 10-1 and got some breathing room as the trio of rank-and-filers trailing one win behind at the start of the day — Tochiozan, Tamawashi, Takarafuji — went down like dominoes.
Now retired Tochiazuma was the last Japanese-born wrestler to win a championship title, at the New Year basho in 2006.
Sixteenth-ranked Takarafuji was forced out by eighth-ranked Tochinoshin (6-5), No. 15 Tamawashi was overpowered by veteran Mongolian Kyokutenho and fourth-ranked Tochiozan bit the dust when he was taken out with an under-shoulder swing down by sekiwake Toyonoshima (6-5).
Ozeki Baruto, Kotoshogiku, Kyokutenho and 11th-ranked Shotenro are also in an eight-way tie at 8-3.
In other bouts back in the upper echelons of the makuuchi division, lone yokozuna Hakuho (7-4), wrestling with a fractured left index finger, had too much savvy for Kotooshu (6-5) and floored the Bulgarian ozeki.