Yokozuna Harumafuji suffered his first loss and dropped out of a co-leading Mongolian quintet on Wednesday after committing a sumo no-no at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
Harumafuji appeared to have sent Yoshikaze packing but was disqualified by ringside judges for grabbing a fistful of the third-ranked maegashira’s topknot during their bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The result left both men with 3-1 records, one behind yokozuna Hakuho and Kakuryu, veteran Kyokutenho and makuuchi division debutant Ichinojo.
“It feels complicated because I won by a foul,” said Yoshikaze, who also beat Harumafuji at the last two tournaments.
“I felt it (my hair) had been pulled. I didn’t hesitate in going on the attack and that forced the yokozuna to pull (the topknot) and this is the result.”
Hakuho, chasing a 31st Emperor’s Cup that would leave him one from tying the all-time record of 32 held by sumo legend Taiho, had to bide his time against plucky Takayasu (1-3), but the yokozuna retained his share of the lead with a force-out victory in the day’s last bout.
Kakuryu made it four from four when he used a rare “sokubiotoshi” head chop down to defeat Bulgarian No. 3 maegashira Aoiyama (2-2).
In other bouts in the upper echelons, Goeido scored a morale-boosting win over winless komusubi Jokoryu to level his mark at 2-2 on his ozeki debut with a textbook underarm throw.
His only previous win at this tournament had come by default on Monday after Toyonoshima pulled out of the basho due to a knee injury.
Kisenosato (3-1) emerged victorious in an epic tussle with Terunofuji (1-3), the ozeki needing to dig deep into his energy reserves to force the top-ranked maegashira over the straw bales.
Kotoshogiku (3-1) made it a hat-trick of wins for the ozeki rank, but was made to work all the way by Endo before squashing the No. 1 maegashira as both crashed out of the dohyo. Endo returned to the locker room nursing a 0-4 record.
Wrestling like a rikishi half his age, 40-year-old Kyokutenho cemented his place among the leading Mongolian pack, thrusting down No. 10 maegashira Kitataiki, who dropped to 2-2.
Towering 21-year-old Ichinojo then put together a stylish fourth straight win, sending seventh-ranked Shohozan (2-2) down with a well-worked armlock throw.