Hakuho was sent to his second straight shock defeat from opening day for the first time at sumo’s highest rank in a loss to rank-and-filer Yoshikaze at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Hakuho never appeared sure of himself and was floundering in his footing once the penultimate match got under way in front of another sell-out crowd at Ryogoku Kokugikan, calling into question whether his reign over the raised ring has finally begun to wane.
Yoshikaze (1-1), who had never beaten Hakuho in nine previous meetings, kept his distance with a steady eye on the prize before smacking the yokozuna forward to touch the dirt.
“I don’t believe this,” said Yoshikaze, who got his third kinboshi but first against Hakuho. “When I got him to move with a swipe of my hand I thought I might have won it. I just was determined to give it all of my strength. Now I know what it means when people say they can’t believe something.”
Hakuho, who is the most successful wrestler in the history of the sport with 35 Emperor’s Cup titles, had not lost on consecutive days as a yokozuna in 49 basho.
It was also the first time he was sent to consecutive defeats against two opponents he had never lost to before.
Yokozuna Kakuryu made mincemeat of Aoiyama in the day’s finale to improve to 2-0.
Kakuryu, who scored 12 wins in Nagoya after missing the previous two tournaments due to injury, is the only other yokozuna competing in the autumn basho.
Ozeki Terunofuji (2-0), who is in his second straight tournament at sumo’s second-highest rank, made quick work of Okinoumi (1-1) after getting his left hand on the back of his opponent’s mawashi and marching him over the straw bales.
Kotoshogiku (2-0) gave would-be challenger Osunaarashi (0-2) a sumo clinic, getting inside close with his left hand in a relentless frontal attack before upending the Egyptian over the edge when his opponent tried a futile arm maneuver.
Ozeki Kisenosato ripped through Tochinoshin (0-2) in a matter of seconds for his second win in a row.
Goeido (1-1) was the lone ozeki casualty in a defeat to Takayasu, who picked up his first win. He got his right hand around but his left hand was left flailing as he was quickly escorted out when the No. 3 maegashira got both hands on the back of the mawashi.
Harumafuji is sitting out the 15-day meet due to a troubled right elbow that he will need treatment on until mid-October.
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