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Kiribayama Upsets Takakeisho as Onosho Takes over Sole Lead at New Year Meet

Ozeki Takakeisho loses his second straight bout and faces an uphill battle with three days left in the year’s first grand sumo tournament.

Mongolian Kiribayama defeated Takakeisho on Thursday, January 19, a result that sent the promotion-chasing ozeki to his second straight loss while allowing rank-and-filer Onosho to take the sole lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, komusubi Kiribayama used a beltless arm throw to topple the ozeki grappler while wrapping up a winning record at 8-4.

Takakeisho, who is chasing promotion to yokozuna, dropped to 9-3 and is now tied with Kotoshoho, one win back of Onosho with just three days left in the 15-day tournament.

"I wanted to do my brand of sumo and just tried to move forward," said Kiribayama, who never flinched after the ozeki opened with a powerful jolt at the face-off. "The flow of the match was very good and I will just take it one day at a time from here on in." 

It was a tough loss for Takakeisho following Wednesday's upset at the hands of Kotonowaka. Promotion to grand champion is not completely out of the question, but it looks less likely after two straight defeats.

No. 8 maegashira Onosho used a barrage of powerful arm thrusts to the neck and chest to bulldoze veteran 38-year-old Mongolian Tamawashi out and improve to 10-2. 

No. 2 maegashira Tamawashi had won five bouts in a row to climb into contention but couldn't thwart Onosho's rapid-fire arm thrusts and dropped to 8-4.

Surprise leader Onosho will take on Takakeisho on Day 13 on Friday in a bout that will have championship implications.

Kotoshoho Conquers Nishikigi

In other major bouts, Kotoshoho used his superior agility and deployed a beltless arm throw at the edge to send Nishikigi down while staying one win off the lead at 9-3. Fifth-ranked maegashira Nishikigi dropped to 7-5.

Top maegashira Daieisho wrapped up a winning record at 8-4 after he overpowered former ozeki Mitakeumi with a series of arm thrusts. No. 2 maegashira Mitakeumi, who is rumored to be nursing an injured leg, fell to 5-7.

"I'm relieved to get the winning record," Daieisho said. "I hit a rough patch with three straight losses [from Day 8]. But now I will just try not to let up and have a strong finish to the tournament."

No. 5 maegashira Ryuden (7-5) denied Hoshoryu a winning record when he used his considerable size advantage to force the sekiwake back to the edge where he lifted him over the straw ridge.

Hoshoryu (7-5), who is nursing an injured ankle, will get another shot at securing a winning record on Day 13 when he faces Wakatakakage.

Sekiwake Wakatakakage put a halt to a two-bout losing skid when he got an inside position right after the face-off and shoved Kotonowaka out to even his record at 6-6. 

It hasn't been a great tournament for Wakatakakage but he is still in a good position to wrap up a winning record. Komusubi Kotonowaka dropped to 5-7.

Azumaryu, Endo Seal Winning Records

No. 14 maegashira Azumaryu improved to 8-4 and wrapped up a winning record for the first time in the top division when he used an overarm throw to send No. 10 Hiradoumi (7-5) sprawling to the dirt surface.

"It took a long time," said the 35-year-old Azumaryu, who got a winning record in the top division in his 10th try. "I wasn't thinking about anything in particular today and just tried to stay calm."

Ninth-ranked maegashira Endo also wrapped up a winning record when he used a series of powerful arm thrusts to the neck to dispatch Ichiyamamoto for his fourth straight win and a record of 8-4.

No. 14 maegashira Ichiyamamoto also had a chance for a winning record but couldn't get the job done and dropped to 7-5.

"I'm relieved," said Endo after getting his first winning record since March of 2022. "I was able to move forward, which was good. I wasn't particularly strong this tournament but did what I needed to do to get a winning record."

After a nightmare first week in which he went 2-6, former ozeki Shodai overpowered fourth-ranked maegashira Nishikifuji (3-8) for his fourth straight win to improve to 6-6. 

Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles here.


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