Yokozuna Hakuho remained on the right track for a record-setting championship on Wednesday, the fourth day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
The 29-year-old Hakuho, who can surpass legendary yokozuna Taiho by winning his 33rd career championship and taking sole ownership of the all-time mark, improved to 4-0 at Ryogoku Kokugikan with a win over Terunofuji. The No. 2 maegashira forced Hakuho to improvise a little, but the yokozuna got the job done to remain among the tournament’s leading trio.
Terunofuji entered the match on a roll after two straight wins over ozeki opponents. He grabbed an early belt hold and appeared to have a chance for his first win in three tries against Hakuho. But the Mongolian master forced Terunofuji off his belt, pushed him backward toward the bales and ended it with a beltless arm throw.
Harumafuji, also 4-0, won an easy battle at the tachiai with Endo to seize control of the bout. The No. 3 maegashira appeared to have no clue at the start, and before he knew it, he was being forced out.
The remaining unbeaten wrestler is sixth-ranked maegashira Okinoumi.
Yokozuna Kakuryu stayed a win behind the leaders with a 3-1 record for the tournament with a defeat of winless Ikioi, whom he has beaten in all six of their career matches. Kakuryu withstood an early charge, allowing Ikioi to over-extend himself. The yokozuna then applied the downward pressure needed to win by “hatakikomi.” slap down.
Ozeki Goeido improved to 3-1 with his second straight win, a quickfire sending out komusubi Tochiozan (1-3). The ozeki took control at the tachiai, pivoted and sent his clueless opponent diving out to his third defeat.
Like Goeido, veteran ozeki Kotoshogiku also needs eight wins in January to avoid dropping down a rank to sekiwake in March and was coming off a loss to Terunofuji on Tuesday. Kotoshogiku (2-2), however, gave himself little chance against huge sekiwake Ichinojo.
The sekiwake’s second straight win evened his tournament mark at 2-2. Kotoshogiku drove toward the sekiwake’s left shoulder on his initial charge, and Ichinojo stepped to one side in a frowned-upon henka move and sent the ozeki sprawling.
Ozeki Kisenosato racked up his third win with a frontal force out of Bulgarian Toshinoshin. The top-ranked maegashira took the initiative early, but spent himself trying to maneuver the bulky ozeki out of the ring. Kisenosato, meanwhile, just bided his time until a belt hold presented itself and he used that to lever Tochinoshin out.
Okinoumi handed fellow maegashira Jokoryu his first defeat of the year. With his back to the straw and Jokoryu poised to win by a frontal force out, Okinoumi executed a perfect beltless arm throw to ensure his perfect record.
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