Sumo / Basho Reports

Asanoyama falls on basho's last day


U.S. President Donald Trump became the main attraction on an otherwise anticlimactic final day at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday, a day after No. 8 maegashira Asanoyama clinched his first championship.

The president, accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Japanese first lady Akie Abe, arrived prior to Asanoyama’s bout against komusubi Mitakeumi. The pair of wrestlers were forced to stand in the ring for several minutes while the entourage entered the arena and took their seats.

The two traded slaps and shoves with Mitakeumi (9-6) getting the better of that exchange, forcing the new champion back to the straw bales and out for his third loss of the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asanoyama, the first rank-and-file wrestler since 1961 to win a grand tournament before reaching the three sanyaku ranks below yokozuna, said he tried to push thoughts of a title out of his mind.

“If I thought about possibly winning the championship, I would have tightened up, so I did what I could not to think about it,” Asanoyama said after receiving the first President’s Cup from Trump.

“I felt a lot of pressure, but I was able to wrestle like I always do because I believed in myself. I still have much to accomplish. I want to do my best to become a big-name wrestler.”

A day after securing a spot among the ozeki wrestlers for the next grand tournament in July, Georgian sekiwake Tochinoshin (10-5) failed to put the icing on the cake as he was forced out by ozeki Takayasu (9-6).

No. 5 Ryuden seized his first Technique prize by recording his 10th victory of the tournament, throwing Brazilian komusubi Aoiyama (6-9) at the straw.

In the day’s final bout, Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu (11-4) bounced back from his defeat on Saturday to finish one win behind Asanoyama after forcing out ozeki Goeido (9-6).

Mongolian sekiwake Ichinojo (5-7-3) withstood the advances of No. 5 maegashira Myogiryu (6-9) and slapped him down to this ninth defeat.

No. 4 maegashira Abi knocked off No. 3 Tamawashi, leaving both with identical 10-5 records.

The 25-year-old Abi said Asanoyama’s victory inspired him to reach 10 wins and earn a Fighting Spirit prize.

“It was great to see him do that,” Abi said. “We’re the same age, after all. I’m motivated to follow his example.”

No. 12 Shimanoumi (10-5), making his makuuchi-division debut at the age of 29, shoved out No. 6 Takarafuji (8-7) to win the Fighting Spirit prize that typically goes to those winning 10 bouts in their first tournament on sumo’s highest stage.

No. 14 Enho, the division’s lightweight at 99 kg, failed to win eight bouts in his debut tournament in the top flight, losing his final match to No. 11 Shohozan (8-7).