Kisenosato handed second defeat


Kisenosato’s hopes of promotion to yokozuna were dealt a crushing blow on Thursday after the ozeki suffered a shock second defeat at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Naruto stable star was in all sorts of trouble right from the start at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium as he lost his way at the “tachi-ai” charge against third-ranked maegashira Chiyotairyu.

Chiyotairyu (4-1) gained momentum to send Kisenosato reeling with a barrage of neck thrusts and then found an opening to spin the ozeki around and march him out from behind.

Kisenosato was deemed worthy of a promotion run after finishing 13-2 in May, but he will likely need to win all of his remaining bouts here to stand any chance of becoming the first Japanese-born yokozuna to take to the ring since Takanohana retired in January 2003.

In other bouts in the upper ranks, Hakuho powered to his fifth win to retain his share of the lead with the ozeki duo of Kotoshogiku and Kotooshu, and Brazilian rank-and-filer Kaisei.

Hakuho, who has won the last two tournaments with perfect 15-0 marks, collected his 35th consecutive win in style, getting his arm around second-ranked Gagamaru’s neck and flooring him with a trademark sukuinage beltless arm throw.

Fellow yokozuna Harumafuji also won with ease against komusubi Tokitenku and was in a tie for second at 4-1.

Kotooshu, who has been at sumo’s second highest rank the longest of the active ozeki, stayed among the early pacesetters with a convincing win.

The Bulgarian timed his “uwatenage” overarm throw to perfection to send sekiwake Myogiryu (2-3) head over heels and out of the dohyo.

Kotoshogiku was equally clinical in his bout with Takekaze, the ozeki surging forward to send the No. 1 maegashira out for a textbook yorikiri win.

But Mongolian ozeki Kakuryu dropped two wins off the lead after ringside judges decided after watching a replay that he had hit the dirt just before top-ranked maegashira Takayasu (3-2) stepped out over the straw ridge.

It was Takayasu’s second major scalp of the tournament, having beaten Harumafuji on Tuesday.

In the lower ranks, Chinese No. 15 maegashira Sokokurai improved to 2-3 after muscling out veteran former sekiwake Wakanosato.

Sokokurai was fired due to accusations of bout rigging in 2011 but reinstated in April this year after a court ruled his dismissal invalid.