• Kyodo


Rank-and-file wrestler Shodai seized the sole lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament with a convincing win over former ozeki Tochinoshin on Friday.

No. 4 maegashira Shodai forced out No. 6 Tochinoshin (2-4) to become the only wrestler with a perfect record after six days at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Shodai quickly placed his left hand under Tochinoshin’s armpit and bulldozed the 177-kg Georgian out of the ring. Shodai, a former sekiwake, is gunning for his first title.

The 15-day meet remains wide open with six wrestlers, including ozeki Takakeisho and No. 1 Endo, trailing Shodai by a win. Rank-and-filers Kagayaki and Terutsuyoshi relinquished their perfect records as the meet continues in the absence of yokozuna Hakuho and Kakuryu.

No. 14 Terutsuyoshi was pulled down by No. 17 Tokushoryu (5-1) for a disappointing loss on his 25th birthday, also the anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.3 and claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in the area where he is from.

Terutsuyoshi tried but failed to grab Tokushoryu’s belt following the initial charge, but was instead quickly yanked downward onto the surface of the raised ring.

Terutsuyoshi was born near the epicenter of the earthquake in Sumoto, Hyogo Prefecture, about 15 hours after the region was struck by the early-morning disaster. The 120-kg wrestler, who started sumo in elementary school, made his debut in the elite makuuchi division in March 2019.

Kagayaki’s bout also left two more wrestlers with 5-1 records as the No. 11 was pushed out by No. 9 Yutakayama.

The two ozeki won their respective bouts. Takakeisho (5-1) survived a scare against fan-favorite maegashira Mitakeumi (3-3) to remain in contention for his second makuuchi championship.

While Mitakeumi appeared to have the advantage after pushing Takakeisho toward the edge, the maegashira lacked a finishing touch. When his opponent momentarily lost his balance, Takakeisho pivoted and shoved the rank-and-filer down with both hands.

Goeido (2-4) defeated No. 3 Tamawashi in the day’s final bout. The ozeki pushed out Tamawashi, last year’s New Year Basho champion, to seal the bout in 2.9 seconds.

Fighting as a demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki, Goeido needs to win at least eight bouts if he is to fight at the sport’s second-highest rank at the next tournament in March.

Sekiwake Asanoyama (4-2) bounced back from back-to-back losses by beating No. 1 Myogiryu (2-4).

Sekiwake Takayasu (2-4) failed to impress as he fell to his third straight loss. Needing 10 wins to earn re-promotion to ozeki, Takayasu lost momentum half way into his bout against top-ranked maegashira Endo (5-1).

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