Harumafuji stays on course for promotion


Harumafuji’s latest bid for promotion to yokozuna continued to gather pace Saturday as he took out Gagamaru to come through the first week of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament unscathed and tied for the lead with a 7-0 record.

Harumafuji, aiming for back-to-back titles after winning the Nagoya Basho without a single loss, was given a run for his money by his Georgian opponent at Ryogoku Kokugikan, but he showed good technique as he broke up a mid-ring stalemate and got both arms around the No. 2 maegashira to beat him with a “shitatenage” underarm throw. Gagamaru dropped to 2-5.

Aiming for a move up to the top of the sumo ladder for the third time, Harumafuji shares the lead with yokozuna Hakuho, ozeki Kisenosato and maegashira pair Kyokutenho and Takayasu.

Harumafuji is one of only three ozeki still fighting in the 15-day basho after Estonian Baruto, Kotoshogiku and Bulgarian Kotooshu all pulled out earlier in the week through injury.

Hakuho wrapped up the day’s action in style, slapping down Homasho to stay unbeaten in 14 matches against the No. 3 maegashira.

Kisenosato shrugged off a series of neck thrusts from Aoiyama and showed poise and composure in barging out the winless Bulgarian komusubi for a well-earned victory.

Meanwhile, Kyokutenho showed no signs of letting up, the 38-year-old Mongolian getting a firm one-handed grip on the back of Daido’s belt and working him over the straw ridge. Takayasu, a No. 9 maegashira, stayed in the leading pack with a force-out win over 14th-ranked Asahisho (5-2).

Kyokutenho is looking to show his stunning championship victory in May was no fluke. He went 12-3 en route to the title at the summer meet but had to wait until the penultimate day of the Nagoya Basho to pick up his first win in a disastrous 2-13 effort in July.

Mongolian ozeki Kakuryu emerged victorious from an entertaining slugfest against top-ranked Shohozan (2-5) and is tied for second at 6-1 with Okinoumi, Myogiryu and Aminishiki.

On a good day for sekiwake wrestlers, Goeido (4-3) piled more misery on Russian maegashira Aran by crushing him out to a seventh straight loss and Myogiryu completed a winning double for sumo’s third-highest rank by defeating Brazilian-born Kaisei (3-4).