• Kyodo

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Japanese hopeful Kisenosato beat Bulgarian grappler Aoiyama to post a fourth win and retain his share of the lead, while Kakuryu rebounded from Tuesday’s shock defeat at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

It was a close call, but after both Kisenosato and Aoiyama had traded blows, the ozeki knocked the top-ranked maegashira back with a two-handed shove and was awarded victory following a prolonged meeting among ringside judges.

Kisenosato had initially been given the win and television replays confirmed that Aoiyama (1-3) had stepped out of the ring a just before Kisenosato put his foot on the wrong side of the straw bales.

Kisenosato, hoping to capitalize on the injury-enforced withdrawal of yokozuna Hakuho and become the first Japanese-born Emperor’s Cup winner in nine years, shares the lead with ozeki Terunofuji and idle sekiwake Tochiozan.

Hakuho’s withdrawal has opened up the title race.

Kakuryu, who was stunned by Yoshikaze on Tuesday, the day Hakuho pulled out of the meet citing a knee injury, huffed and puffed his way past winless Egyptian maegashira Osunaarashi for a share of second at 3-1.

Terunofuji, the summer meet champion, posted a controlling victory over giantkiller Yoshikaze, getting both arms around the No. 1 maegashira and bumping him over the edge.

Yoshikaze, whose two wins have come against yokozuna, dropped to 2-2.

Promotion-chasing Tochiozan improved to 4-0 by default after his scheduled opponent Takayasu pulled out earlier in the day due to a left leg injury sustained in Tuesday’s defeat to Mongolian giant Ichinojo.

The third-ranked maegashira had to be taken back to the dressing room by wheelchair after he was shoved awkwardly off the dohyo by Ichinojo and winced in pain before he was helped getting up at ringside.

He suffered ligament damage and bruising to his thigh and withdrew from a major tournament for the first time in his career.

In other bouts, Kotoshogiku chased out komusubi Okinoumi (1-3) for a third win, while fellow ozeki Goeido improved to 2-2 after ringside judges correctly overturned the referee’s decision was awarded him victory in his bout against Ichinojo.

Replays showed Ichinojo (2-2) had touched the dirt with his arm just before Goeido came crashing to the dirt.

Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin overpowered Myogiryu to level his mark at 2-2, ending his sekiwake opponent’s perfect start to the tournament in the process.

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