NAGOYA – Yokozuna hopeful Kisenosato produced another clinical win to retain his share of the early lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
Kisenosato was in total control at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, the ozeki using his left hand and then his right to get a strong grip on the back of Okinoumi’s (1-3) belt and belly the second-ranked maegashira over the straw bales.
Kisenosato, who is attempting to become the first Japanese-born wrestler to win promotion to sumo’s ultimate rank since Wakanohana in 1998, shares the lead at 4-0 with Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho and five others.
Kisenosato went 13-2 in his previous two outings but will have to win his first title or at least post a runnerup finish for a realistic shot at promotion to sumo’s ultimate rank.
Hakuho, the most successful wrestler in sumo history with 37 career titles, extended his winning streak to 33 bouts in convincing fashion, stunning Tochiozan (2-2) with a forearm blow before blasting the No. 1 maegashira out of the ring.
Hakuho, unbeaten since the opening day of the Spring Basho in March, needs nine more wins to become only the third wrestler in sumo history to reach the 1,000 milestone. Three victories will see the 31-year-old from Ulan Bator become the first to win 900 in sumo’s elite makuuchi division.
Harumafuji bounced back from a shock first defeat of the tournament at the hands of No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi, easily dispatching top-ranked maegashira Mitakeumi (0-4).
Earlier in the day, yokozuna Kakuryu pulled out of the 15-day meet with a lower back injury.
Kakuryu told the Japan Sumo Association he has been diagnosed with lumbar discopathy and will need two weeks of complete rest. His stablemaster Izutsu said the Mongolian also hurt his left ankle in Tuesday’s defeat to Tochiozan.
Komusubi Takayasu (3-1) won Wednesday’s scheduled bout with Kakuryu by default.
In other action in the upper ranks, Terunofuji moved halfway toward the eight wins he needs to retain his ozeki rank for the Autumn tourney in September with a hard-fought force-out victory over struggling Georgian sekiwake debutant Tochinoshin (0-4).
Ozeki Goeido (2-2) rebounded from Tuesday’s loss to Takayasu, ramming fourth-ranked maegashira Shohozan (1-3) over the ridge, but Kotoshogiku’s tournament took another downward turn when the ozeki was bumped out from behind by by second-ranked Takarafuji (3-1) and suffered a fourth straight loss.
At sekiwake, Brazilian-born grappler Kaisei improved to 3-1 on his debut at sumo’s third-highest rank after comfortably barging out winless komusubi Kotoyuki.