Fukuoka – Yokozuna Terunofuji and ozeki Takakeisho maintained their perfect runs Monday, each claiming his ninth straight win at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Occupying the ancient sport's highest rank alone for the first time after the retirement of 45-time champion Hakuho, Terunofuji is living up to his top billing as he ousted a tricky opponent in former ozeki Takayasu (5-4) at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Mongolian-born Terunofuji swiftly secured the right overarm belt hold and showed great strength in forcing the No. 5 maegashira out of the raised ring following a brief standstill, improving to 11-12 head-to-head against Takayasu.
Terunofuji, whose knee injuries and illness saw him fall from the second-highest rank of ozeki to the fifth-tier jonidan division as recently as March 2019, is in the hunt for his sixth Emperor's Cup after winning September's Autumn meet as a debutant yokozuna.
Takakeisho also kept his record intact after overcoming dogged resistance from No. 5 Hoshoryu (4-5), the nephew of former Mongolian great Asashoryu.
Takakeisho parried Hoshoryu off balance with his left arm, only to see Hoshoryu quickly get a right underarm belt hold. But the ozeki quickly swung him around with a left armlock throw before forcing the tenacious rank-and-filer off the raised ring.
Mitakeumi (8-1) won the battle of sekiwake wrestlers, forcing out Meisei (4-5) to clinch a winning record.
The two-time top-division winner drove Meisei to the edge before he was forced back to the opposite side of the raised ring in a action-packed encounter, but recovered his position and grabbed two belt holds en route to the win.
Ozeki Shodai (5-4) continued his patchy form, meanwhile, falling to a slap-down from No. 4 Endo (5-4).
No. 15 Abi (8-1) secured a winning record on his return to the elite makuuchi division as he showed good timing in pulling down No. 10 Chiyotairyu (5-4). The former komusubi was handed a three-month suspension in July last year for breaching COVID-19 protocols.
"I'm heading into each bout with a sense of gratitude that I'm able to wrestle," he said. "The meet is not over yet and I'll take each bout at a time."
No. 6 Tamawashi, No. 7 Ura and No. 12 Hokutofuji all improved to 7-2.
New komusubi Kiribayama (3-6) floored No. 1 Wakatakakage (2-7) with a hooking inner thigh throw, while the other komusubi, Ichinojo (3-6), was pushed out by No. 2 Onosho (3-6).
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