Yoshikaze must really be eating his Wheaties. The rank-and-filer picked off his second straight yokozuna, this time in a convincing fashion in a walloping of Kakuryu at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.
After beating injury-hit Hakuho the previous day, the No. 1 maegashira came for a second helping, taking control in the day’s finale before crushing the lone remaining yokozuna to a first loss as an awestruck crowd tossed the zabuton cushions through the air at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
It was Yoshikaze’s fourth career kinboshi and improved his record to 2-1, just one off the early lead held by ozeki pair Kisenosato and Terunofuji and sekiwake duo Tochiozan and Myogiryu at 3-0 at the 15-day meet.
Hakuho’s withdrawal the same day threw cold water on the tournament for most fans, but at the same time has opened up the title race to the upper echelon wrestlers in a national sport that has been dominated by the Mongolian yokozuna for years.
It also presents a golden opportunity for a Japanese-born wrestler to become the first Emperor’s Cup winner since Tochiazuma achieved the feat at the 2006 New Year Basho.
Kotoshogiku and Goeido were the two ozeki upsets as they were sent to defeats from their respective opponents.
Kisenosato manhandled winless Sadanofuji in a powerful frontal force-out while Terunofuji grinded out a hard-fought victory against winless Osunaarashi to both remain perfect.
Myogiryu absorbed a fierce frontal assault from Kotoshogiku, outflanking the ozeki from the side as he teetered on the edge before sending his opponent packing over the straw bales to a first loss.
Goeido (1-2) lost the script from the initial charge against Tochinoshin (1-2) as he was abruptly upended into the ringside cushions by tsukiotoshi.
Early on, Takayasu (1-2), a No. 3 maegashira, had to be rolled back to the dressing room by wheelchair after he was shoved awkwardly off the dohyo by Ichinojo (2-1) and winced in pain before he was helped getting up at ringside.
Both Hakuho, who had been seeking his 36th career Emperor’s Cup but lost his first two matches, and yokozuna Harumafuji have pulled out of the tournament with injuries.
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