NAGOYA – Yokozuna Kakuryu, looking for his third straight championship, was dominating on Sunday, the first day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
The Mongolian managed to corral livewire komusubi Shohozan and thrust him out in the opening-day finale of the 15-day meet at Dolphins Arena. The yokozuna’s win was his 13th in 15 career bouts against Shohozan.
All the big guns, save for ozeki Goeido and sekiwake Ichinojo, joined Kakuryu with first-day wins.
Yokozuna Hakuho, seeking to extend his record championship haul to 41, needed all his skill to outlast Mongolian compatriot Tamawashi. The komusubi recovered from a seemingly untenable position to grab the yokozuna’s belt with both hands.
Despite having his heels back against the straw bales, Hakuho somehow escaped his opponent’s grasp and executed a perfect beltless arm throw.
Tochinoshin overpowered Ikioi, who won the battle to keep the new ozeki from securing an underarm belt hold, but lost the war as the Georgian used brute force to plow him out.
“That worked out. I wrestled well and got off to a good start,” said Tochinoshin, who took advantage of his opponent’s distraction to dominate the bout.
Ozeki Takayasu, who is coming off injury and needs eight wins to avoid forfeiting his rank, got off to a winning start against former ozeki and current No. 1 maegashira Kotoshogiku. Although Kotoshogiku had the best of the early going, Takayasu was able to anticipate his opponent’s moves, get on his flank and haul him down.
Like Takayasu, Goeido entered the tournament as a kadoban ozeki whose status at sumo’s second-highest rank is in jeopardy after a losing record in May.
Goeido was about to throw No. 1 maegashira Shodai from the ring by his belt. But the ozeki’s right hand slipped, and he found himself on the edge of the straw with his back to Shodai, who propelled him out with a tap.
Mitakeumi marked his return as a sekiwake with a comprehensive win, shoving out No. 3 maegashira Abi. The 25-year-old Mitakeumi went 9-6 in May as a komusubi after spending the previous five tournaments as a sekiwake.
His sekiwake partner, 225-kg Mongolian Ichinojo, was embarrassed by No. 2 maegashira Chiyonokuni, who took forever to touch the surface with his hand and start action. Ichinojo appeared to fall asleep during the interlude, and the 145-kg Chiyonokuni’s charge struck home while the Mongolian was still in his crouch.