FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Kisenosato’s comeback got off to a losing start as he fell to Tamawashi on Sunday, the first day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Kisenosato, returning to competition after missing all or part of the past three meets, was charged out of the ring by the No. 1 maegashira as the 15-day meet at Fukuoka Kokusai Center kicked off.
The Tagonoura stable wrestler had been suffering from upper arm and chest muscle injuries sustained at March’s Spring Basho, and pulled out of the May and July tournaments. He sat out the entire autumn tourney in September along with fellow grand champions Hakuho and Kakuryu, the latter of whom is not competing in Fukuoka.
Kisenosato is gunning for his third grand tournament championship, although only four wrestlers since 1958 who have missed matches in three or more straight meets have gone on to win their comeback tournaments. The only Japan-born yokozuna, Kisenosato, will take on newly promoted komusubi Onosho on Monday.
Tamawashi will meet Mongolian grand champion Hakuho, who beat komusubi Kotoshogiku to start his bid for a record 40th championship. Hakuho, who set a record in July by winning his 1,050th career bout, missed September’s tournament due to pain in his left knee.
Earlier in the day, Aminishiki, the oldest wrestler to regain promotion to the elite makuuchi division at the age of 39, dominated 26-year-old maegashira Kotoyuki.
After a pair of false starts by Kotoyuki, Aminishiki held onto his opponent’s belt and threw him down.
“I’m so grateful to return. . .” said the Isegahama stable wrestler. “Coming back to the makuuchi division has been my goal for a while, so I’m really glad.”
Later in the day, Takayasu, fighting as a demotion-threatened “kadoban” ozeki after missing September’s tournament, pushed second-ranked maegashira Chiyotairyu to the ground, sealing the win in a heartbeat. Takayasu needs seven more wins to secure a winning record — and his ozeki rank for the next tournament.
In the day’s final bout, yokozuna Harumafuji, the winner of the autumn tourney, lost by “hatakikomi” slap down to Onosho, who beat him in September. The 21-year-old komusubi got the better of the initial charge. When the yokozuna tried to shove his way back into the bout, he planted his right foot and shoved but it slipped and he fell to the surface.
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