• Kyodo


Hakuho scraped out a victory to remain perfect in a four-way tie for the lead on Thursday, the fifth day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

A day after his 35th birthday, the yokozuna (5-0) took on January’s surprise champion, No. 2 maegashira Tokushoryu at Edion Arena Osaka. The 15-day tourney is being held behind closed doors in order to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Tokushoryu, who fell to 0-5, managed to show some of the spark that made the journeyman wrestler the winner of the New Year Basho.

As Hakuho forced him backward from their initial collision, Tokushoryu slipped his left arm under the yokozuna’s right and nearly tipped him off balance.

But Hakuho, who has had one tough win after another in Osaka, recovered and grabbed an inside left-handed belt hold in the process. As Tokushoryu forced him back, the yokozuna flipped his opponent with a slick underarm throw.

No. 3 Mitakeumi also won to improve to 5-0, while two other wrestlers remained spotless by default.

Mitakeumi easily beat Takakeisho after an uninspired opening from the ozeki. Takakeisho (2-3) was easily stopped in his tracks after a lackluster charge and then fumbling in vain for some kind of hold. Mitakeumi, however, pushed the ozeki backward with both hands and forced him over the straw to his third loss.

Sekiwake Asanoyama remained unbeaten after his opponent, No. 1 maegashira and former ozeki Takayasu (0-5), withdrew with a left thigh injury. The 26-year-old Asanoyama, who has posted 10-plus wins in each of the past three tournaments, and who won his first title last May, will likely be promoted to ozeki if he can win at least 12 bouts here.

Bulgarian No. 13 Aoiyama also improved to 5-0 by default. His opponent, No. 15 Tsurugisho (1-4), withdrew with a left knee anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Yokozuna Kakuryu (4-1) stayed one win off the pace following a straightforward force-out of No. 3 Yutakayama (2-3).

Sekiwake Shodai (3-2) wasted a chance to improve to 4-1 after a strong start to his bout with Endo (3-2). He forced the komusubi’s heels back up onto the straw but was unable to finish him off. Instead, Endo counterattacked and quickly forced Shodai back across the ring and out to his second loss.

Hakuho’s stablemate, No. 12 Ishiura, suffered his first loss against No. 13 Kotoshogiku (2-3). The veteran forced out Ishiura (4-1) by squaring him up and thrusting forward with both legs in unison, as he often did in his days as an ozeki.

Takanosho’s perfect record also bit the dust as Chiyotairyu got the better of the opening charge and slapped him down, leaving both men with 4-1 records.

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