Ozeki Kisenosato fell to a big upset on Sept. 17 at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament, leaving Mongolians Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kyokutenho in the lead with unbeaten records after nine days of competition.
After a great first week, Kisenosato dropped out of the lead despite delivering some devastating slaps and thrusts to No. 3 maegashira Homasho. Slowed by a weak face-off, the ozeki came back to blast Homasho around the ring. But Homasho (5-4) absorbed everything he dished out and slipped off to the side at just the right instant. Running into thin air, Kisenosato plunged to the dirt and his first loss.
"I was cautious,'' Homasho said. "But I kept moving forward.''
Homasho has now defeated three ozeki opponents in this tournament, and the win snapped a three-bout losing streak.
Yokozuna Hakuho, meanwhile, never gave No. 4 maegashira Aminishiki a chance, driving into him at the start and following up with powerful footwork and forward momentum. Hakuho, who has 22 championships to his name, has been almost flawless so far.
Harumafuji, gunning for promotion to yokozuna after his 15-0 title in July, won his ninth bout in an odd match against No. 3 maegashira Toyonoshima. Unable to gain an advantage after the two grappled for position, Harumafuji broke away and assumed a pose like that of a wrestler about to go in for a take-down--a rare tactic in sumo. It worked, though. After a brief moment with both wrestlers standing apart, Harumafuji jumped forward and took Toyonoshima (2-7) off his feet.
No. 11 maegashira Kyokutenho--the big surprise in May, when he took the overall honors--won his ninth bout with a thrust-out win over No. 5 maegashira Tochiozan (6-3).
Like Kisenosato, ozeki Kakuryu was also the loser in an upset --to sekiwake Myogiryu. Myogiryu came out low and sent the Mongolian off balance. Kakuryu never really recovered and though he fought hard at the edge he was driven out for his second loss. Myogiryu is also 7-2, which is an excellent showing for a new sekiwake.
Sekiwake Goeido grabbed an easy win because top maegashira Shohozan (2-7) faltered right at the face-off and touched his palm to the dirt to keep from completely falling over. Goeido is definitely picking up steam and has won four straight bouts. He lost his first two matches, however, and is now 6-3.
Russian No. 2 maegashira Aran finally got his first win as new komusubi Aoiyama (1-8) plopped to the dirt before he could even mount an attack. Aoiyama was looking down--not at his target--and his inexperience showed in the defeat. This is just the sixth tournament the Bulgarian has fought in the top division.
Top maegashira Kaisei narrowly recovered from a near-fall to muscle Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin out of the ring. That was close too--both fell out of bounds, but Tochinoshin hit first for his seventh loss. Kaisei, of Brazil, is 4-5.
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