OSAKA – Yokozuna Kakuryu clinched his fourth career championship on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
The 32-year-old Mongolian defeated ozeki and local favorite Goeido (9-5) to clinch the title at Edion Arena Osaka with one day left in the 15-day competition. Kakuryu, whose only loss here came on Thursday to New Year Basho champion Tochinoshin, needed only one win over the final two days.
“Last year was brutal,” said Kakuryu, who only managed to complete one grand tournament in his injury-hit 2017 campaign. “But so many fans stuck with me and cheered me on, and so many people kept supporting me, I wanted to make those people happy.”
The climactic match ended almost before it started. The ozeki came head-on in his charge but slowly enough for Kakuryu to wrap his right arm around Goeido’s neck and yank him down to the ring’s sandy surface.
In the penultimate bout, ozeki Takayasu (11-3) handed sekiwake Mitakeumi his eighth loss, a defeat that will likely prevent him from fighting at sumo’s third-highest rank in May for a sixth straight grand tournament.
As he so often does, Mitakeumi started well but finished poorly. He got around to the ozeki’s left but could not bring him down as Takayasu spun out of danger. After some wild sparring at mid ring, Takayasu got the sekiwake off balance and thrust him down.
But Takayasu’s win only served to tie him with two other wrestlers, No. 6 maegashira Kaisei and No. 14 Ikioi, at 11-3 in the bid to finish as the tournament’s runner-up.
A day after flubbing his lines in a crucial loss against Kakuryu, Kaisei made short work of No. 13 maegashira Daishomaru. The Brazilian behemoth hooked his arms under Daishomaru’s on the charge and pushed him down to his fifth defeat. Kaisei, who is 31 and first wrestled in the upper division in 2011, has never won 12 bouts in a single tourney in his career.
Ikioi blasted diminutive Ishiura (7-7) out of the ring, when the 116-kg No. 12 maegashira aborted his charge and was easily shoved out. On Sunday, Ikioi will have a shot at matching his career high of 12 wins in the makuuchi division, when he fights Kaisei.
Komusubi Ichinojo (9-5) cemented his bid for a second promotion to sekiwake by throwing No. 4 maegashira Shodai to his seventh loss. The other komusubi, Chiyotairyu, will be saying goodbye to his time in the elite upper ranks after dropping to his 11th loss, easily forced out by No. 7 maegashira Yoshikaze.
Sekiwake Tochinoshin used his deadly left hand to latch onto No. 5 maegashira Chiyomaru (6-8) and force him out. The Georgian has now won nine-plus bouts for three straight tournaments but will have a tougher time manhandling 215-kg Ichinojo on Sunday.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.