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Yokozuna Kakuryu caps Kyushu title with final-day win

Kyodo

Yokozuna Kakuryu added the icing to his cake with a win on Sunday, the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

A day after clinching his third career grand tournament title, Kakuryu backed fellow Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji to the straw bales in the final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center and forced him out to finish at 14-1. The loss was Harumafuji’s fourth.

“It’s really pleasing,” Kakuryu said at the award ceremony.

“I’ve been struggling with injuries for the past one, two years and physically and mentally things didn’t come together, but I didn’t sulk and it’s great that things turned out like this.”

Kakuryu won his first 10 bouts here, as he had two years before. But two years ago, his Kyushu tournament unraveled following an 11th-day defeat to ozeki Kisenosato.

When the yokozuna once again met his match here in the form of the veteran ozeki, Kakuryu said, “This will be an opportunity to show whether or not I’ve grown since then.

“I was in the same situation two years ago and that time I fizzled out, but this time I was determined not to let that happen again.

“I feel I’m finally getting to wrestle my way, relaxed. I’ll not forget how I’m feeling now and keep working.”

Ozeki Goeido’s first yokozuna-promotion campaign finished on a disappointing note in a loss to yokozuna Hakuho. Goeido finished at 9-6, while the yokozuna salvaged some pride by notching 11 wins after sitting out September’s tourney due to injury.

Mongolian komusubi Tamawashi’s feat of beating one yokozuna and three ozeki was recognized with a Technique Prize, his first grand tournament award.

The 32-year-old Tamawashi (10-5) finished with a flourish, blasting No. 3 maegashira Endo (7-8) out of the ring with a quick charge and relentless blows to the throat.

“Today was good,” Tamawashi said. “I was calm and wrestled well.”

The strong performance will likely see the komusubi promoted to sekiwake, sumo’s third highest rank.

“For next time, I want to continue enjoying sumo,” he said.

Muscular makuuchi division debutant Ishiura, who won 10 straight bouts after opening with a loss, was awarded a Fighting Spirit Prize. Despite the laurels, the No. 15 maegashira was upended by Georgian No. 6 Tochinoshin, leaving both men with 10-5 records.

“I’m happy (to receive the prize),” Ishiura said. “I didn’t think I’d get it before the start of the tournament. That (10 wins) was just chance.

“Toward the end, it became tough and I found parts of my game that need work. I need to get stronger on my tachiai (opening charge).”

Third-ranked maegashira Shodai also earned a Fighting Spirit Prize. But like Ishiura, whom he defeated on Saturday, Shodai also lost on the final day. Shodai came away empty-handed on his initial charge against No. 10 Arawashi, who seized a quick hold and finished his opponent off with an overarm throw. Both finished at 11-4.

“Compared to last time, I feel I’ve become more tenacious,” Shodai, a native of neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture, said.

“I want to keep doing the same things in the future (should I rise in the rankings), and concentrate on my sumo. The results here were good and the experience is boosting my confidence.”

Kisenosato finished 12-3 after forcing out No. 5 Takarafuji (9-6). Fellow ozeki Kotoshogiku got his fifth win after beating another Fukuoka native and fifth-ranked Shohozan (8-7), while Terunofuji (8-7) finished the meet with a defeat after he was grappled out by sekiwake Takayasu (7-8).