Harumafuji, Kitataiki improve to 5-0


Yokozuna Harumafuji remained in front on the fifth day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday, with only No. 10 maegashira Kitataiki able to match his perfect 5-0 record.

The Mongolian yokozuna made short work of winless maegashira Toyohibiki. Rival yokozuna Hakuho remained one win off the pace with a 4-1 record.

Harumafuji absorbed a low charge at the faceoff and grabbed a left-handed belt hold on the back of Toyohibiki’s mawashi. By that time, however, the outcome of the bout was not in doubt with the hulking maegashira having lost his balance and gravity in the process of taking its course.

In the day’s finale, Hakuho overextended himself on his initial charge against Tochiozan. The komusubi slipped to his left to dodge the brunt of the yokozuna’s charge but lacked the balance to exploit his opportunity.

Although the misstep allowed the crowd a scent of an upset, the yokozuna pivoted and was squarely on his opponent before Tochiozan (2-3) could offer any resistance.

One day after all four ozeki lost, things again looked bleak for the stalwarts at sumo’s second-highest rank after Kotoshogiku and Kotooshu fell one after the other.

Kakuryu, however, avoided consecutive defeats when he overran Toyonoshima to improve to 3-2. The ozeki barely had time to break a sweat as he pursued his opponent to the straw and knocked him out of the ring with a frontal thrust. Toyonoshima fell to 1-4.

Kisenosato took longer to earn his third win against tricky top maegashira Myogiryu, but got the job done nonetheless. The ozeki used his size and strength advantage to twist his opponent into a narrow space at the edge of the bales before pushing him out. Myogiryu fell to 2-3.

Kotooshu suffered his third straight defeat in a loss to sekiwake Goeido, who improved to 4-1. The ozeki pushed his opponent to the straw with his initial charge, but fell victim to a beltless arm throw that sent both wrestlers tumbling out.

Prior to that, top maegashira Aminishiki easily slapped down Kotoshogiku, sending the ozeki to a 3-2 record with his second straight loss. The ozeki’s headstrong charge cost him his balance, and he was easy prey for the maegashira, who improved to 3-2.

Estonian sekiwake Baruto held off Shohozan and despite his bad left knee dispatched the new komusubi with an overarm throw. Baruto, who needs 10 wins in this tournament to return to the ozeki ranks for the March tourney, improved to 3-2 on the strength of back-to-back wins. Shohozan, coming off his first win of the tournament, fell to 1-4.

Earlier, Kitataiki protected his perfect record with a frontal push-out win over seventh-ranked maegashira Masunoyama, who fell to 2-3.