Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji outmuscled winless No. 2 maegashira Sadanofuji on Saturday to retain sole possession of the lead at the end of the first week of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
After a brief exchange of thrusts, Terunofuji and Sadanofuji got locked in a mid-ring stalemate, but the ozeki broke it up and with a firm left-handed grip on Sadanofuji’s belt, worked him over the bales to stay perfect at 7-0.
Terunofuji, who won his first title at the Summer Basho in May and earned promotion to ozeki, is one of the favorites to win the championship here in the absence of yokozuna Hakuho, who pulled out of the meet on Tuesday with a knee injury.
The 23-year-old Isegahama wrestler is one win clear of yokozuna Kakuryu, ozeki Kisenosato, No. 12 maegashira Ikioi and 14th-ranked Chinese grappler Sokokurai.
Kakuryu, also looking to capitalize on the absence of yokozuna rivals Hakuho and Harumafuji, had little trouble notching his sixth win, bulldozing No. 2 maegashira Sadanoumi (2-5) out in a matter of seconds in the final matchup of the day at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Kisenosato got the better of Mongolian No. 4 maegashira Ichjinojo with a routine oshidashi frontal push-out to stay in touch with the leaders and keep his hopes of an elusive first title alive. Ichinojo dropped to 4-3.
Also in the upper ranks, ozeki Kotoshogiku (5-2) was given a run for his money by Tochinoshin (2-5), but used every ounce of strength to send him over the ridge after the Georgian komusubi had twice forced his way back into the bout. But ozeki Goeido dropped into the loser’s column after he was toppled by komusubi Okinoumi. Both men have 3-4 marks.
Top-ranked maegashira Yoshikaze added ozeki wannabe Tochiozan (5-2) to his growing list of major scalps, charging in with his head at the tach-ai and shoving the sekiwake out to his second consecutive loss.
Yoshikaze, who has also beaten two yokozuna and two ozeki at this tournament, improved to 5-2.
Tochiozan went 10-5 in Nagoya in July and will need to post double-digit wins here again to earn a shot at promotion to ozeki at the next tournament in Kyushu in November.
Sekiwake Myogiryu deployed a flurry of slaps and thrusts to drive out top-ranked Bulgarian maegashira Aoiyama (1-6) for a hard-earned fifth win.
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