FUKUOKA – Kakuryu capitalized on a slip-up by fellow Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji to clinch his third career championship with a day to spare at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
Harumafuji crashed to his third defeat at the hands of Hakuho in the day’s penultimate bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center and Kakuryu (13-1) took full advantage by seeing off ozeki Goeido (9-5).
Kakuryu came out of the blocks too early and Goeido then also made a false start in a tense finale. Goeido looked to have an edge with a crunching charge, but Kakuryu got inside him to secure victory with a pulling overarm throw.
“I’m pleased. I tried to think about it (the title) as little as I could, taking the bout the same as always and that worked well,” Kakuryu said. “I tried not to be affected (by Harumafuji’s defeat) and I was focusing on my sumo.
“It was the same (with two false starts), I was intent on maintaining my mindset and executing my style of sumo and that worked.
“I went through a tough period, when physically and mentally things did not come together, but I’m pleased to end the year in a good way like this.”
Kakuryu faces Harumafuji (11-3) on the final day of the 15-day basho.
Hakuho (10-4) read compatriot Harumafuji like a book at the charge, drew him in and swiveled at the edge of the ring to send him out with a textbook kotenage armlock throw.
Kisenosato rebounded from his surprise defeat to sixth-ranked Georgian maegashira Tochinoshin on Friday, outlasting Mongolian behemoth Terunofuji (8-6) in an all-ozeki clash to post an 11th win.
Third-ranked maegashira Shodai (11-3) rammed out 15th-ranked makuuchi newcomer Ishiura (10-4) in a rematch after both were deemed to have crashed out of the dohyo at the same time by ringside judges in their first fight.