FUKUOKA - Komusubi Takakeisho won his first career championship on Sunday, the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
The 22-year-old Takakeisho, competing in just his 12th tournament in sumo’s top flight, beat No. 3 maegashira Nishikigi (8-7), catching a lucky break to finish the tournament with 13 wins.
“Since I was little, my father and I shared an ambition that I might make it as a professional (sumo wrestler). This is so great to get results like this,” Takakeisho said. “This tournament I was able to wrestle without concern for wins and losses but with a focus on the quality of my bouts. I think that led to getting this many wins.”
Takakeisho then had to wait for the result of the match between ozeki Takayasu and sekiwake Mitakeumi. Needing a win to force a championship playoff, Takayasu fell to his third loss, letting a shot at his first career championship slip through his fingers.
In his bout against Nishikigi, Takakeisho was under pressure from the opening charge and found himself sliding backward to the straw bales. Just when it looked as if the komusubi’s feet would slip out from under him and he began to teeter forward, fortune came to his assistance.
Perfectly poised to slap his opponent down, Nishikigi instead shoved him back toward the straw, keeping Takakeisho from falling. Takakeisho then plowed forward, and when Nishikigi’s left foot slipped, the komusubi slapped him down.
“I was nervous today, but kept reminding myself that I was strong enough, and that was a key,” Takakeisho said.
Takayasu was also forced back on the initial charge, but fought his way back to the middle, where he and Mitakeumi locked-up for a prolonged pause. When the ozeki tried to break the stalemate, the sekiwake executed a beltless arm throw which left Takayasu on his back and rolling his eyes in disappointment.
It was just the fifth time Mitakeumi had beaten Takayasu in their 15 career bouts.
“I expected I would have to fight a championship playoff and I was preparing for that. I’m glad it was decided before that,” Takakeisho said.
Takakeisho, who had missed his chance to wrap up the championship when he slipped and fell in his bout against Takayasu on Saturday, won both a Shukun-sho (Outstanding Performance prize), and Kanto-sho (Fighting Spirit prize). No. 13 maegashira Onosho earned his third career Fighting Spirit prize after winning the first makuuchi division match of the day to finish 11-4.
No Gino-sho (Technique prizes) were awarded for the second straight tournament.
Top-ranked maegashira Myogiryu shook off the distraction of two false starts from his opponent to earn his eighth victory, and third in a row, by pushing out No. 5 Chiyotairyu (7-8).
Mongolian sekiwake Ichinojo (6-9) ended his difficult tournament by getting forced out by No. 6 maegashira Kagayaki (5-10).