FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Hakuho remained one step ahead of the pack on Sunday, improving to 8-0 as the 15-day Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament entered the home stretch.
Although his record remained perfect, sumo’s greatest yokozuna was anything but flawless in the ring against sekiwake Myogiryu (2-6), who came out with more than his share of tenacity and attitude.
After finally forcing Myogiryu back to the edge of the ring, Hakuho lunged for his opponent. The sekiwake dodged the brunt of the blow, but teetered off balance and out of the ring. Hakuho, who appeared headed out of the ring, somehow managed to slam on the brakes and despite a wobble, stayed on the winning side of the straw.
The victory left him one win ahead of five wrestlers at Fukuoka Kokusai Center with 7-1 records, including rival yokozuna Harumafuji, and the ozeki duo of Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato.
Harumafuji, the smallest wrestler in the makuuchi division, used his ability to attack his opponent from a low angle. The yokozuna got under No. 3 maegashira Toyonoshima and shoved him around the ring before thrusting him out to his fifth loss. It was Harumafuji’s 35th career victory in 43 bouts against Toyonoshima.
Yokozuna Kakuryu (6-2) latched onto the belt of komusubi Tochinoshin with his left hand and proceeded to swing the Georgian grappler around the ring. When the spin cycle stopped, Tochinoshin crashed to the sandy surface with five losses.
Kotoshogiku improved to 7-1 by forcing out Osunaarashi (2-6). The two fought to a draw on the tachiai, but Kotoshogiku bided his time and wasted no energy while the top-ranked Egyptian maegashira flailed in vain to topple him. Instead, the ozeki gradually pressed his man to the edge of the ring before finishing him off.
Kisenosato joined his fellow ozeki at 7-1 with an equally clinical win over winless No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi. Kisenosato worked carefully from start to finish before shoving his opponent to the straw’s edge and bellying him out.
In a battle of out-of-form ozeki, relegation-threatened Goeido (5-3) took advantage of Terunofuji’s immobility to make quick work of his rival.
Terunofuji (4-4), whose right leg is thoroughly taped, leaped to one side to dodge his opponent’s charge, but it proved futile. Goeido looked as if he saw it coming. Upon contact, he stopped in his tracks, pivoted to his left and with Terunofuji still balanced on one leg, easily forced him out of the ring.
No. 4 maegashira Ikioi dropped from the ranks of wrestlers with one loss, suffering a disappointing defeat at the hands of sekiwake Tochiozan (4-4). Ikioi had a window of opportunity when the sekiwake’s charge missed his mark, but was unable to bundle the agile Tochiozan out. The two repeatedly crashed into each other, and each time Tochiozan regained his balance more quickly improved his position until he was able to grab Ikioi’s shoulder with both hands and swing him to the surface.
Near the bottom of the makuuchi food chain, No. 12 maegashira Takayasu and No. 10 Shohozan both won to remain at 7-1. Takayasu finished off No. 11 Gagamaru (5-3) with an overarm throw, while Shohozan defeated No. 10 Sokokurai (5-3) using a pulling overarm throw.
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