Tochinoshin snatched a one-match lead Thursday after yokozunaKakuryu suffered his second loss in as many days at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
The No. 3 maegashira, who entered Day 12 of the 15-day tournament tied with Kakuryu, earned his fifth straight win at Ryogoku Kokugikan when he forced out sekiwake Tamawashi (4-8).
After a fierce exchange of slaps and pushes Tamawashi appeared to have the advantage, driving Tochinoshin back with a hand to the throat before knocking him off balance. But the powerful Georgian kept his footing and his composure, outmuscling his higher-ranked opponent to secure the victory.
Yokozuna Kakuryu dropped to 10-2 after losing to No. 5 Endo (7-5) for the second time in their seven meetings. The loss followed his upset at the hands of Tamawashi on Day 11.
Endo, who earned his fourth kinboshi prize for beating a yokozuna, was forced onto the back foot in the opening exchange, but quickly turned the match around when he pushed Kakuryu out.
“Since (my opponent) was a yokozuna, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fight the way I wanted, so I just competed with all the strength I had,” Endo said. “Now I’m just going to stay focused on the last three days of the tournament.”
Takayasu (9-3) remained an outside contender for his first top-level title with a quick victory over fellow ozeki Goeido (6-6). Takayasu used his brute strength and 22-kg weight advantage to blitz his opponent and force him from the ring.
No. 13 Daieisho, meanwhile, saw his slim hopes of a surprise championship slip away after dropping to 8-4 when he was defeated by No. 8 Kaisei (8-4). After entering the day tied for third with Takayasu, Daieisho fell back into a six-way tie for fourth.
Sekiwake Mitakeumi’s slide continued after taking a fifth straight loss in his bout with No. 5 Okinoumi (4-8). Okinoumi took the initiative from the opening clash, sending his higher-ranked opponent backpedaling before propelling him over the edge of the ring.
Mitakeumi (7-5) had emerged as an early contender after the withdrawal of yokozuna Hakuho and Kisenosato through injury, winning his first seven bouts of the tournament. But his sterling early form abandoned him from the start of the second week, with the latest loss leaving him out of contention.