Sumo / Basho Reports

Tamawashi defeats Hakuho for first time, grabs share of tournament lead

Kyodo

Mongolian sekiwake Tamawashi grabbed a share of the lead with his first career win over yokozuna Hakuho on Thursday, the 12th day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

On the verge of beating Tamawashi for the 14th time with one final push, overnight leader Hakuho delivered a full-blooded right-handed shove. But with his heels brushing the straw bales, the sekiwake leaned left and dodged the brunt of the blow.

Instead of pushing his compatriot out, Hakuho’s momentum swung him to his left, leaving Tamawashi behind him and in easy position for a force-out.

The loss was the second in a row for Hakuho, who had his 28-win streak snapped on Day 11 by komusubi Mitakeumi.

The two men are now tied at 10-2 with Hakuho seeking a record 42nd championship and Tamawashi his first.

Behind them are three wrestlers with 9-3 records — sekiwake Takakeisho, No. 8 maegashira Kaisei and No. 9 Endo.

Komusubi Mitakeumi (7-2), who completed a hat trick of wins over yokozuna at the tournament Wednesday by beating Hakuho, won his second straight after missing four bouts with a knee injury. The 26-year-old Mitakeumi came out of his crouch like lightning to outflank No. 1 Tochiozan (5-7) and force him out.

Mitakeumi hurt his knee when his unbeaten start ended on Day 6, then lost by default the next day. After missing three bouts with injury, he snapped Hakuho’s victory streak.

Takakeisho won a slapping-and-thrusting skirmish against No. 4 maegashira Kotoshogiku (4-8). The former ozeki tried repeatedly to tip the 22-year-old backward off balance as a precursor to yanking him forward. But Takakeisho, November’s Kyushu champion, maintained his balance and eventually shoved out Kotoshogiku, who will turn 35 next week.

Brazilian No. 8 Kaisei beat No. 4 Okinoumi (6-6) for the ninth time in 16 career bouts, finishing him off with a frontal force-out.

No. 9 Endo (9-3) kept pace with a solid win over No. 6 Chiyotairyu (6-6), getting a two-handed morozashi belt hold and eventually overturning his 191-kg opponent.

Ozeki Goeido evened his ledger at 6-6 by pulling No. 5 Yoshikaze forward and toppling him onto the sandy surface. Yoshikaze kept the ozkei off his belt by leaning as far forward as he could, so Goeido switched tactics and slapped him down to his 10th defeat.

Takayasu used his agility to stay alive and battle back to force out 198-kg Aoiyama (6-6). The Bulgarian No. 5 maegashira dodged the ozeki’s charge, but Takayasu (7-5) stopped on a dime before any damage was done and it was game on.