Yokozuna Hakuho and ozeki Kotoshogiku put their skills on display once again Nov. 21 to win their ninth straight bouts and keep the lead at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, as sekiwake Kisenosato melted under intense heat from ozeki Harumafuji.
Hakuho, the defending champion, had to deal with a good grip on a loose belt, which he pulled almost up to No. 4 maegashira Tochinowaka's armpit. But he managed to demonstrate his skills anyway, whipping the junior wrestler around and then tossing him down belly first.
Riding a wave of support from his hometown fans, new ozeki Kotoshogiku, a Fukuoka native, blasted his way through No. 5 maegashira Kitataiki (3-6) to keep his winning streak alive. Kotoshogiku appeared to be a little tired and leaned in too hard at the end, plopping to the ground. But by the time he hit the dirt, Kitataiki was safely out of the ring.
In the most exciting bout of the day, ozeki Harumafuji gave everything he had against Kisenosato, launching out of the face-off fast and low, driving ahead on the belt and never letting up even as the big sekiwake seemed to absorb all of his power and stay on his feet.
The Mongolian's determination was too much for Kisenosato in the end. When he tried to start an attack of his own, Harumafuji drove him off balance and upended him near the edge.
The match was a big one for both wrestlers.
Kisenosato, at 7-2, is trying to become sumo's next ozeki and can hardly afford to lose any more bouts. Harumafuji, meanwhile, is trying to save face after already dropping four of his matches.
Showing off his legendary strength, ozeki Baruto lifted out sekiwake Kakuryu after a hard-fought grappling match. The Estonian ended it all by pulling Kakuryu up into the air and walking him over the rim, no simple feat considering Kakuryu weighs in at 144 kilograms.
Both wrestlers are now 6-3, but Baruto is gaining steam and Kakuryu appears to be coming off the rails, having lost three of his last four bouts.
Ozeki Kotooshu--in sharp contrast--didn't have any spark in him as No. 4 maegashira Tochiozan shoved him over the edge after he put up a tepid defense. He is 6-3 and appears to be psyching himself out, a problem that has kept him out of title contention for much too long.
Komusubi Toyonoshima (5-4) handed top maegashira Goeido his third-straight loss, getting under his attack at the face-off and following up with thrusts until he had the victory.
Toyonoshima is a hard wrestler to predict--he often does surprisingly well against the toughest competitors, but then is brittle against those who shouldn't be such a challenge. His style on Nov. 21 was solid, however, and if he can keep it up he should be in good shape for the final week ahead.
Goeido, struggling after tough opening against the senior echelons, is 3-6.
Komusubi Homasho had another bad day, losing his eighth bout of the tournament to top maegashira Okinoumi. Homasho had a 10-5 in September to earn his new rank, but with this record he is assured of falling back down into the maegashira slots. Okinoumi, on the other hand, has been fighting pretty well, although his record is 4-5. He was 8-7 the last time, and his losses so far were all at the hands of sekiwake-or-higher opponents.
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