Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho fell to a huge upset on the opening day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on May 6, losing to komusubi Aminishiki after all six of the ozeki wrestlers won their bouts with ease.
The 27-year-old Hakuho, shooting for his 23rd title, jumped out hard and then leaned too far into his attack, making him vulnerable as Aminishiki pulled back and moved to the side. Hakuho teetered on his tiptoes at the edge of the ring, but Aminishiki quickly shoved him out.
"I just wanted to get a good hit at the start,'' Aminishiki said. "I knew I had the yokozuna on the first day, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy.''
In the crowded ozeki ranks, the opening day of the tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan arena went much more smoothly.
Mongolia's Kakuryu won his debut match at ozeki by forcing the 199-kilogram No. 2 maegashira Gagamaru, of Georgia, down onto his belly after a brief grapple. Kakuryu, the fourth Mongolian to make it to sumo's second-highest rank, has a lot of promise and nearly stole the top honors from Hakuho the last time out, when he closed with a 13-2 record. It is unusual for a first-time ozeki to show his best form right away, however, so he may have some acclimatizing ahead of him.
All five of the other ozekis also won--a sumo first, since this is the first tournament with so many ozeki fighting at the same time.
Mongolian challenger Harumafuji appeared to take a finger to the eye but sent komusubi Homasho packing with a nice thrust-and-evade strategy, while Estonia's Baruto went over the shoulders of sekiwake Toyonoshima, grabbed a hold of the back of his belt with both hands and then lifted him completely off the dirt and deposited him outside the ring.
It's a great move, and Baruto is the only wrestler who can pull it off. He might as well get it out of his system now--Baruto may be strong, but he won't likely get away with that kind of bravado against the really good opponents.
Snapping up an easy win, ozeki Kisenosato had no problem thrusting out No. 1 maegashira Aran, who fell into a quick retreat and stepped over the edge as he tried to recover.
Kotoshogiku, 9-6 the last time, manhandled top maegashira Takayasu, driving through his defenses for a good hold on his belt and then plowing to victory from a low and solid attacking position. Takayasu had a 10-5 record the last time and that is why he has jumped up the ranks. How long he will stay there is a good question--he had no chance to show off his abilities against the ozeki.
Bulgaria's Kotooshu was unable to get inside for the belt, but kept his cool and dominated No. 2 maegashira Myogiryu with thrusts until he was in the clear. Kotooshu finished with an 8-7 record in March, so he isn't on the verge of demotion. But he does need a good showing to remind his adversaries--and his ever-patient fans--that he deserves the rank he continues to hold.
In other bouts, sekiwake Goeido jumped out of harm's way and slapped No. 3 maegashira Takekaze as he rushed over the edge to seal up his opening-day win.
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