• Kyodo


Ozeki Takayasu may have finished without a title, but he finished the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in style with a win over yokozuna Kakuryu on Sunday.

Takayasu and Kakuryu were forced to refight the tournament’s final bout on the 15th and final day at Edion Arena Osaka, where judges were unable to decide a winner in their first try. In the second try, Takayasu was too fast for the grand champion and easily forced him out. Takayasu has now won 12 bouts in consecutive tournaments.

Kakuryu, who clinched his fourth career championship on Saturday, finished with a 13-2 mark to put a horrible 2017 behind him. Last year, the Mongolian went the distance in only one tournament, but went 11-4 in January, when he was slowed by injury. He also came into this tournament after a last-minute decision to compete despite pain in the fingers of his right hand.

“Last year was truly a very difficult year to go through,” he said in his post-tournament interview. “But so many people supported me and cheered for me, and to them I am grateful.

“I think I have grown some through all of this. My decision about whether to enter the tournament was really a hard one. But sitting out would be really difficult. I guess I simply didn’t want to skip the tournament.”

Although he failed to match his dominance from his 14-1 January championship effort, Georgian sekiwake Tochinoshin was awarded the outstanding performance prize for the second straight tournament thanks to his 12th-day win over Kakuryu.

Tochinoshin (10-5) ended his tournament by forcing out komusubi Ichinojo (9-6), who will likely join him as a sekiwake at May’s tournament in Tokyo.

“I had a thigh injury here, so to finish with 10 wins and keep fighting until the end is something I’m pretty happy with,” Tochinoshin said.

No. 6 maegashira Kaisei toppled No. 14 Ikioi to earn a career-best 12th win. Defeat for the former sekiwake left Ikioi with an 11-4 record and without the fighting spirit prize that would have been his with a victory.

The 205-kg Brazilian seized an overarm hold with his right hand on the charge and used it to upend his opponent in one fluid motion. Kaisei, who was in the hunt for his first championship thanks to a nine-match winning streak to start the tournament, won the third fighting spirit prize of his career.

“I’m very happy to win the prize and with 12 wins,” the 31-year-old Kaisei said. “My body really moved well for me, my legs were strong and my knees better than they have been.”

Top-ranked maegashira Endo, who beat both ozeki and showed great prowess with his left-handed belt grips, was awarded his second career technique prize.

The popular wrestler’s technique, however, was no match for the speed of No. 4 Shohozan, who knocked Endo back with his ferocious charge and shoved him from the ring in seconds to clinch a winning record.

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