Mongolian co-leaders Hakuho and Harumafuji struggled just a bit but pulled through for their eighth-straight wins at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sept. 16, while ozeki Kisenosato demolished his opponent, and two rank-and-filers also held the pace.
Hakuho worked up a heavy sweat trying to get the upper hand against No. 3 maegashira Toyonoshima (2-6), who fought a good defensive bout until the yokozuna uncorked a powerful drive that he could not resist. The win had a cautious look to it--not the usual macho performance that Hakuho is so well known for. But it certainly was enough to seize the day at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Ozeki Harumafuji, the defending champion, came out a tad too low against sekiwake Myogiryu but turned disaster into victory with a bold headlock throw that left Myogiryu completely defenseless. The move shows once again how well Harumafuji can read his opponents under pressure and react with just the right technique.
He has now won 24 straight bouts, including the 15 he marked in July. If he can keep it up, promotion to yokozuna could be soon within his strong grasp.
Kisenosato, meanwhile, took top maegashira Shohozan's thrusting attack in stride, then flung him to the dirt with an overarm throw. The ozeki is fighting with great confidence and precision, but since he has yet to actually win a tournament, he is also likely starting to feel a lot of pressure as the only Japanese-born wrestler in quite a while with a realistic shot.
Clearing one more hurdle, Mongolia's junior ozeki Kakuryu got a scare as No. 4 maegashira Aminishiki thrust him hard at the face-off and sent him reeling toward the edge. He somehow pulled himself together fast enough to counter as Aminishiki stumbled forward and pushed him out. Kakuryu is 7-1 and Aminishiki 6-2.
Sekiwake Goeido (5-3) flipped No. 2 maegashira Gagamaru (2-6) off his feet after the mammoth Georgian chased him around the ring with a zestier attack than usual. Gagamaru actually had the sekiwake on the run for most of the bout, but Goeido ended that by getting inside and upending Gagamaru just in the nick of time.
Komusubi Tochinoshin (2-6) took No. 2 maegashira Aran (0-8) out of the ring with a display of solid beltwork, and komusubi Aoiyama of Bulgaria got his first win of the competition by pulling down Brazilian top maegashira Kaisei, who drops to 3-5.
In the rank and file, No. 9 maegashira Takayasu and No. 11 maegashira Kyokutenho--the tournament champion in May--moved up to 8-0 records in what has been a stellar start for both. If they keep going, they will be soon bumped up in line and pitted against tougher opponents.
"I'm fighting my ideal sumo," Takayasu said. "It makes me happy to keep winning like this and please the crowds."
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