A stylish win made yokozuna Kakuryu the sole leader on Sunday, the eighth day of the 15-day New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Tied with undefeated sekiwake Mitakeumi at the start of the day, Kakuryu went into the day’s finale at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan only needing to win to seize the sole lead. He had little trouble doing so, easily dispatching No. 4 maegashira Shodai (4-4).
Kakuryu edged a little to his right on the opening charge and grabbed a right-handed overarm hold. Shifting his weight to his right and allowing Shodai’s momentum to carry him forward, Kakuryu flung the 26-year-old from the ring in one fluid motion.
Mitakeumi’s first loss came to top-ranked maegashira Ichinojo (4-4). Simple frontal assaults had been working for Mitakeumi so far in the tournament, but his straightforward approach was his undoing on Sunday.
The sekiwake charged forward, and after trading slaps and shoves, moved in low to gain leverage.
But within seconds, Ichinojo had a left-handed vice grip on the back of Mitakeumi’s belt. After a prolonged pause, Ichinojo used his advantage to tug his helpless opponent to the straw bales and out.
Mitakeumi was joined at 7-1 by two other wrestlers.
Georgian No. 3 maegashira Tochinoshin shrugged off his first loss in Saturday’s defeat to Kakuryu by beating No. 2 Yoshikaze (3-5) and staying one win back of the yokozuna.
No. 13 maegashira Daieisho also improved to 7-1, while No. 16 Asanoyama (6-2), whose unbeaten start had ended on Saturday, was thrown down by No. 12 Kagayaki (4-4).
Ozeki Goeido’s up-and-down tournament continued when he was forced backward off his mark by No. 3 maegashira Chiyotairyu (2-6) and easily driven from the ring to a third loss.
Fellow ozeki Takayasu improved to 5-3, having little trouble sending komusubi Takakeisho (2-6) to the sandy surface. With the look of a cat toying with a mouse, Takayasu twice shoved Takakeisho back before pulling him forward, with the second time seeing his opponent toppling over.