Ozeki Harumafuji moved into the sole lead of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sept. 18 in Tokyo as yokozuna Hakuho slipped and fell to his first loss, and rank-and-filer Kyokutenho was also sent out to defeat.
In a huge upset, Hakuho jumped out at the start and uncharacteristically lost his balance as he fumbled for a hold on No. 5 maegashira Tochiozan's belt. Seeing the opportunity, Tochiozan kept moving back and Hakuho had nowhere to go but down. It was an embarrassing defeat and a rare show of sloppiness by the yokozuna. It was also the first time Tochiozan has beaten him in their 15 bouts against each other.
Harumafuji, on the other hand, won by what looked like a knockout.
He beat No. 9 maegashira Takayasu silly, pounding him so hard he crashed to the ground and could barely make it out of the ring afterward under his own power. The ozeki first hit Takayasu with a left-handed slap. Takayasu, stunned, leaned forward and his face crashed into Harumafuji's forehead. That was all Takayasu could take, and he plunged to the ground like a boxer who has been knocked out.
It was Takayasu's second loss.
With 10 wins, Harumafuji is moving very close to promotion. If he takes top honors on Sept. 23 in the Ryogoku Kokugikan, there will be no doubt of his advance, since he won with a 15-0 record last time. But he might also be promoted if he finishes with 13 or 14 wins. If he does, Hakuho will have company at yokozuna for the first time in two and a half years.
One step back after his loss on Sept. 17, ozeki Kisenosato nearly lost a throwing duel with sekiwake Goeido (6-4). The sekiwake took the initiative, but Kisenosato was higher off the ground and held out until Goeido had already touched down. It was a milestone win for Kisenosato, marking his 700th bout in the top division. He has a 396-304 win-loss record.
Ozeki Kakuryu, 8-2, put an end to fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho's winning streak and probably his chances of pulling off another campaign for the title from the bottom of the rank and file. Though Kyokutenho, who is a No. 11 maegashira, fought a good match, Kakuryu lifted him up and deposited him out of bounds as the two grappled with each other at the edge. Kyokutenho won the championship in May, claiming his first title at the ripe old age of 37.
Sekiwake Myogiryu, who has been one of the more impressive wrestlers in his debut at the rank this tournament, suffered a big loss to komusubi Tochinoshin, the first in the four times that they have fought. Myogiryu, upended after a frail face-off, was hoping the bout would give him the eight wins he needs to wrap up an overall positive record, but that will have to wait another day. Tochinoshin is 3-7.
Komusubi Aoiyama capitalized on top maegashira Shohozan's mistake of trying too hard to close the deal on what looked like an upset win. The small but fiesty Shohozan slapped and thrust Aoiyama around the ring and had him on the verge of defeat but leaned too far forward, and the Bulgarian slipped back just far enough to evade his attack and watch him fall to the ground belly first.
They are both 2-8, so they can expect to be placed farther down the ranks come November.
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