Ozeki Kisenosato’s bid to reach the highest rank of yokozuna is already in jeopardy after the first day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament, falling to top-ranked maegashira Okinoumi on Sunday, when yokozuna Kakuryu also suffered defeat.
Kisenosato, bidding for the fourth time to earn promotion to yokozuna, has been tasked by the Yokozuna Deliberation Council with seizing an elusive first championship. He entered the 15-day tournament with somewhat brighter hopes after yokozuna Hakuho, who has won a record 37 titles, pulled out with injuries.
But after having wrapped up Okinoumi’s torso with both arms and driving him to the straw bales, Kisenosato surrendered a firm left-hand hold on the back of his mawashi. Okinoumi quickly spun the ozeki around to grapple him out for a stunning defeat at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
“I don’t remember much with the first-day nervousness, but it’s nothing more than the first win of the meet,” said Okinoumi after his third win against Kisenosato in 19 tries. “They (the huge cheers) might have made the ozeki nervous.”
Kisenosato also lost the opening bout in his second attempt at yokozuna promotion in January 2014, and finished that tournament with a 7-8 record.
In the next bout, Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu, who missed the majority of the Nagoya tourney in July with lower-back pain, was sent packing by komusubi Tochiozan, who evened his career record against the yokozuna at 21-21.
Just like Kisenosato, Kakuryu was on the front at the start but did not have the vigor to take it all the way against Tochiozan, who looked comfortable fending off the charge and easily countered to push out the yokozuna trying a pull-down.
But Nagoya tourney champion Harumafuji, seeking his first back-to-back titles as a yokozuna to make it nine overall, had no issues dispatching komusubi Kaisei.
Harumafuji made it 15-0 against the Brazilian after easily reaching to the front side of the belt and pressing Kaisei’s neck with his right hand to leave his opponent no chance of a comeback.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku, who has his rank on the line for the sixth time, with a winning record here a must to stay on, allowed Shodai a right-hand hold of his mawashi belt but used his torso and sheer power to force out the second-ranked maegashira with a trademark grapple.
Goeido, another “kadoban” ozeki, had a less-convincing outing against Georgian Tochinoshin as the wrestlers had both their hands on the other’s belt, but Goeido’s swift footwork proved the difference as he moved around to crush the second-ranked maegashira out of the ring.
But Terunofuji, who has been struggling with injuries to both knees in recent tourneys, fell to livewire Yoshikaze. The Mongolian had the better of the initial charge, but the No. 1 maegashira held on at the edge, and charged back to force the ozeki off the ring after placing his head firmly into the ozeki’s chest.
Two sekiwake debutants both had losing starts, Takayasu thrust down by Mongolian third-ranked maegashira Takanoiwa and Takarafuji getting grappled out by No. 4 rank-and-filer Myogiryu.
In a battle of makuuchi-division newcomers, 12th-ranked maegashira Chiyoshoma sent 13th-ranked giant Amakaze sprawling after the Mongolian easily grabbed the front side of his counterpart’s belt before executing a pulling underarm throw.