Mongolia's deadly duo of Hakuho and Harumafuji demolished their opponents on Sept. 15 to stay unbeaten seven days into the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament, with homegrown ozeki Kisenosato and two rank-and-filers also keeping their slates clean.
Hakuho, who has been sumo's only yokozuna for two and a half years, had No. 3 maegashira Homasho's number from the get-go, repeatedly peppering him with thrusts and slaps until the hapless wrestler plunged belly first to the ground. Homasho is 4-3.
Yokozuna-hopeful Harumafuji, coming off his 15-0 showing in July, played No. 2 maegashira Gagamaru perfectly, getting deep inside for a belthold, driving to the rim and twisting the huge Georgian off his feet and into a helpless spin to the dirt with a textbook "shitate-nage,'' or underarm throw.
Not ready to give up the spotlight to the Mongolians quite yet, however, co-leader Kisenosato also claimed an impressive victory.
He hammered komusubi Aoiyama out of bounds with his powerful thrusts and fearlessly aggressive attack. With Kisenosato performing at his best, Aoiyama was low-hanging fruit: He hasn't won any of his bouts yet. But the win adds one more notch to Kisenosato's record, and certainly adds to his confidence heading into the second half.
Kakuryu, fighting his third tournament at ozeki, absorbed a couple of heavy slaps to the face before sending top maegashira Shohozan (2-5) to the dirt. The junior Mongolian deserves some attention--he has only lost once, to Homasho. He went 9-6 in July and 8-7 before that. With this tournament's thin field, he could make a bigger dent.
Sekiwake Myogiryu came back to capitalize on the relative inexperience of top maegashira Kaisei. Kaisei had Myogiryu on the run and at the edge, but lost his focus. Myogiryu (6-1) slipped off to the side then mounted a thrusting attack of his own that the 3-4 Brazilian, who was fighting in the juryo division as recently as March, couldn't handle.
No. 2 maegashira Aran of Russia hit the ground with a thud as sekiwake Goeido grappled him off his feet for his seventh-consecutive loss. Goeido is 4-3 and still has some tough bouts against senior opponents ahead, so it was a welcome win for him.
Marking his first win, komusubi Tochinoshin lifted No. 3 maegashira Toyonoshima off his feet and heaved him onto his back. The win almost got overturned because Tochinoshin actually touched the ground with his palm just as Toyonoshima was hitting the dirt. After a brief huddle, the judges agreed the Georgian had already rendered Toyonoshima helpless and confirmed the ring referee's call in his favor.
No. 9 maegashira Takayasu and No. 11 maegashira Kyokutenho won again to remain unbeaten in the rank-and-file. Though maegashira leaders usually get weeded out by the two-thirds mark, Kyokutenho managed to hold on and win the championship in May--and at 38 was the oldest wrestler ever to do that for the first time in his career.
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