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Kotonowaka Maintains Lead with Comfortable Win Over Oho at New Year Basho

Terunofuji, Kirishima and Hoshoryu remain in the thick of the New Year Basho title chase with Day 11 wins at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Sekiwake Kotonowaka held onto sole possession of the lead on Wednesday, January 24 with a comprehensive win over No 11 maegashira Oho at the New Year Basho.

Kotonowaka used a series of thrusts to the upper body to send Oho out and over the edge to improve to 10-1 with four days left in the 15-day tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The 26-year-old Kotonowaka is bidding for his first Emperor's Cup and possible promotion to ozeki. His win over Oho, who dropped to 6-5 is a major step in that direction. He will face Onosho on Day 12.

Chasing Kotonowaka are Terunofuji and fellow Mongolians Kirishima and Hoshoryu, who are just one win back.

New Year Basho
Yokozuna Terunofuji defeats Onosho in the final match on Day 11 of the New Year Basho. (ⒸSANKEI)

Terunofuji Conquers Onosho 

Yokozuna Terunofuji absorbed a crushing blow at the face-off but quickly grabbed the arm of Onosho (8-3) before shoving the No 14 maegashira out to move to 9-2.

It was one of the more impressive wins for Terunofuji, who showed impressive speed for someone who completed only one tournament last year due to injuries. Terunofuji will face Onosato on Thursday.

Mongolian Terunofuji would love nothing more than to complete his comeback to competition by winning his ninth Emperor's Cup. By performing well through the first 11 days he's proven he is up to the task.

New Year Basho
Kirishima (left) closes in on a victory over Daieisho on Day 11. (ⒸSANKEI)

Kirishima, Hoshoryu Emerge Victorious

Two men also vying for the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament silverware are Mongolian compatriots Kirishima, winner of the previous tournament, and Hoshoryu.

Ozeki Kirishima, who is gunning for promotion to grand champion, took advantage of a superior face-off. He then used a series of powerful arm thrusts to send sekiwake Daieisho (6-5) out to pick up his ninth win against two losses.

Ozeki Hoshoryu also stayed right in the thick of the title chase when he got both hands on the belt and used a spectacular under-arm throw at the edge to send giant rookie Onosato toppling off the raised ring.

Hoshoryu joins fellow Mongolian Kirishima at 9-2 while No 15 maegashira Onosato dropped to 8-3 in his debut in the elite division. 

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Wakamotoharu Seals a Winning Record

Top maegashira Wakamotoharu wrapped up an all-important record and improved to 8-3. He shoved out veteran Tamawashi, who is fighting as a No 10 maegashira and dropped to 7-4.

Having secured a winning record, Wakamotoharu, a former sekiwake, will be returning to the upper sanyaku ranks for the next tournament in March.

"I just tried to absorb his attack and establish my position," Wakamotoharu said.

He added, "I just try to concentrate on each match and do my best without worrying too much about the rankings."

It was the 1,283rd elite division match for 39-year-old Mongolian Tamawashi, which ties him for seventh place on the all-time list with Akinoshima. 

Further down the ranks, No 12 maegashira Takanosho (7-4) shoved out No 14 Kotoshoho. As a result, Takanosho wrapped up a winning record and improved to 8-3.


Author: Jim Armstrong

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

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