Harumafuji keeps cool to stay in share of lead


Yokozuna-chasing Harumafuji’s bitter experiences of the past are paying off in a big way.

Harumafuji outfoxed Toyonoshima in tactical fashion to retain his place in a share of the lead with yokozuna Hakuho and veteran Kyokutenho with undefeated 9-0 records at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Two of the five overnight leaders, including ozeki Kisenosato and rank-and-filer Takayasu, fell to their first defeats, leaving three men at the top and three with 8-1 marks as the 15-day meet enters the final six days.

In the day’s main event at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Harumafuji unleashed a fierce throat grab to get Toyonoshima (2-7) off balance and slid a left hand around for an outer grip on the mawashi before releasing the No. 3 maegashira once for a reassessment.

Harumafuji, who is seeking his fourth career championship, raised his hand as if to slap his opponent before pumping his shoulders once to regain composure and slamming Toyonoshima to the dirt surface with an outer-leg trip.

In his two previous tries at sumo’s ultimate rank, Harumafuji disappointed with 9-6 and 8-7 records, respectively, all but ending his bids early on in both meets.

But after winning the Nagoya meet in July with a spotless 15-0 mark, the diminutive Mongolian ozeki is showing more confidence than ever, ripping down opponents at will. He is on a 25-bout winning streak extending back to the final day of the summer basho in May.

Hakuho, gunning for his 23rd Emperor’s Cup and first in three meets, manhandled Aminishiki (6-3) in the day’s finale with a textbook frontal forceout to remain in the lead.

The 38-year-old Kyokutenho, who became the oldest wrestler in the modern era to win a title at the summer meet, bulldozed Tochiozan (6-3) after getting a hand around his opponent’s mawashi for a quick frontal forceout to stay perfect.

Mongolian Kyokutenho posted his 813th career win to surpass Hawaiian Takamiyama for eighth on the all-time list and has the most victories by a foreign-born wrestler.