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Shodai headlines a group of three men tied for the lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament after besting fellow rank-and-filer Hokutofuji on Thursday in a battle to remain undefeated.

Coming off a day of rest, No. 2 maegashira Hokutofuji (4-1) had no response for No. 4 Shodai’s shoving attack at Ryogoku Kokugikan, taking his fifth loss in as many bouts with the former sekiwake.

Hokutofuji had beaten both ozeki and yokozuna Kakuryu over the first three days of the 15-day meet before gaining a win by forfeit on Wednesday when Hakuho pulled out with minor injuries.

Shodai, faces injury-plagued Georgian No. 6 Tochinoshin on Friday.

The battle for the first Emperor’s Cup of 2020 remains wide open a third of the way through the tournament following the withdrawal of Kakuryu, who joined fellow yokozuna Hakuho on the injury list after suffering his third loss on Wednesday.

In other Day 5 bouts, ozeki Takakeisho improved to 4-1 with a quick victory over last year’s champion, No. 3 Tamawashi. The ozeki was shoved back but used Tamawashi’s forward momentum to easily thrust him down.

Endo (4-1) beat new sekiwake Asanoyama (3-2) to remain in contention for his first title.

Endo had the initial momentum before Asanoyama rallied and drove him back, but the top-ranked maegashira turned his opponent around and pushed him out with a two-handed outside belt grab.

Demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki Goeido (1-4) inched closer to losing his rank, falling to his fourth loss in a rematch with No. 4 Okinoumi (3-2). Goeido tried to push Okinoumi to the edge, but the maegashira slipped to the side and shoved him down.

The match referees ruled that both wrestlers fell out at the same time in their first match as Goeido attempted to throw Okinoumi out.

Sekiwake Takayasu (2-3) suffered another loss as Daieisho (2-3) rallied for the win.

Takayasu had the new komusubi on the ropes, but Daieisho turned him around for a better position.

The former ozeki went for a pull-down, but Daieisho kept his footing and drove Takayasu out. Takayasu needs at least 10 wins to secure a promotion back to sumo’s second-highest rank.

Komusubi Abi (2-3) won his second straight bout in a clash with No. 1 Myogiryu (2-3). Abi shoved his opponent to the edge and kept up a thrusting attack to finish the maegashira off.

No. 2 Mitakeumi (3-2) collected his third win as he enjoyed a day of rest after his scheduled opponent, Kakuryu, pulled out of the meet with pain in his left foot and forfeited the match.

Among the lower ranks, No. 11 Kagayaki and No. 14 Terutsuyoshi collected their fifth straight wins and remain undefeated in a three-way tie for the lead.

Kagayaki shoved out No. 11 Chiyotairyu (1-4) and Terutsuyoshi, in only his sixth top-division meet, threw down No. 12 Chiyomaru (1-4).

Five grapplers, including No. 9 Yutakayama and No. 17 Tokushoryu, trail the leaders at 4-1.

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