NAGOYA – The ninth day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament turned out to be a tumultuous one as the yokozuna duo of Hakuho and Harumafuji took a step backward in the title race Monday.
Hakuho was the first to trip up, losing to fourth-ranked maegashira Ikioi for the first time in 10 career meetings. Hakuho had the overhand grip on the belt from the tachiai, but was shaken off by Ikioi (3-6), who slapped Hakuho down as the yokozuna uncharacteristically lost his balance.
Harumafuji tasted defeat in similar fashion in the day’s final bout, as No. 5 maegashira Yoshikaze kept the Mongolian off his mawashi and sent him crashing to the floor as Harumafuji lunged for an inside position.
The kimboshi — a win by a maegashira wrestler over a yokozuna — was the first of Ikioi’s career.
“I just went for broke and don’t remember much about the fight, to be honest,” Ikioi said. “I tried to approach him differently today, go in on him from the left at the start.
“I was desperate and everything is a blur. But I couldn’t be happier.”
Yoshikaze posted his fifth career kimboshi, the most by any active wrestler.
“It came down to keeping him off the belt and not giving up,” said Yoshikaze, now 8-5 against Harumafuji for his career.
Hakuho and Harumafuji, along with Yoshikaze, are among a pack of four standing at 7-2. Ozeki Kisensato and komusubi Takayasu co-lead the 15-day meet at 8-1.
Ahead of the stunning finish to the day, Kisenosato survived a 1-minute, 25-second marathon against fellow west ozeki counterpart Terunofuji (5-4), to continue his slow march toward yokozuna promotion. Terunofuji needs three more wins to secure his ozeki rank for the next tournament in September.
Kisenosato is angling to become the first Japanese yokozuna since Wakanohana in 1998, and will face fourth-ranked Shohozan (2-7) on Tuesday.