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Tamawashi Upends Asanoyama to Create Logjam at New Year Basho

Four grapplers share the New Year Basho lead after eight days, and grand champion Terunofuji is among five wrestlers tied for second one win off the pace.

Veteran Tamawashi deployed a textbook beltless arm throw on Sunday, January 21 to defeat overnight leader Asanoyama and create a logjam at the top of the leaderboard at the New Year Basho.

Tamawashi's win over former ozeki Asanoyama at Ryogoku Kokugikan means four grapplers, including No 7 maegashira Asanoyama, are tied for the lead at 7-1 at the midway point of the 15-day tournament.

Asanoyama, a 29-year-old native of Toyama Prefecture, is aiming for his second Emperor's Cup and first since July 2022 when he returned from a year-long suspension after violating the Japan Sumo Association's COVID-19 safety rules.

Asanoyama's lone championship came in May of 2019 when he went 12-3 and also won the Outstanding Performance Prize and the Fighting Spirit Prize.

Promotion-seeking sekiwake Kotonowaka won by forfeit to join Asanoyama and rank-and-filers Onosho and Onosato for the lead heading into the second week of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

New Year Basho
Terunofuji (left) clashes with Ryuden on Day 8. (ⒸSANKEI)

Terunofuji Improves to 6-2

Lone yokozuna Terunofuji is among five wrestlers one win off the pace at 6-2 after the Mongolian shoved out No 5 Ryuden, who dropped to 3-5. 

Terunofuji suffered his second loss of the tourney on Saturday when he was crushed out by former ozeki Shodai.

The 32-year-old Terunofuji is trying to make a comeback after competing in only one full tournament in 2023 while recovering from injuries to his back. He is also dealing with the aftereffects of surgery on both knees.

His other loss of the 15-day tournament came on Day 2 against Wakamotoharu.

Kotonowaka improved to 7-1 when he won by default over Takayasu, who was forced to pull out on Day 8 with a high fever.

What's more, Komusubi Takayasu pulled out for the second time and dropped to two wins, three losses and three absences.

Sekiwake Kotonowaka, who is pushing for ozeki promotion, suffered his first loss on Day 6 to Wakamotoharu but got back in the winner's circle on Saturday with a hard-fought win over Ryuden.

New Year Basho
Hoshoryu prevails against Hokutofuji. (KYODO)

Hoshoryu Stays in Contention for New Year Basho Title

Ozeki Hoshoryu is also among the wrestlers at 6-2 after he overpowered No 3 maegashira Hokutofuji, who fell to 4-4.

Mongolian-born ozeki Kirishima, who is chasing promotion to grand champion, suffered a setback when he was shoved out by No 4 maegashira Tobizaru to drop to 6-2. Tobizaru is 4-4.

Sekiwake Daieisho is also at 6-2 after he swatted down diminutive No 2 maegashira Midorifuji, who dropped to 2-6.

New Year Basho
Onosho (right) wrestles against Shimazuumi in a New Year Basho match. (KYODO)

Further down the ranks, No 14 maegashira Onosho used a beltless arm throw to topple fellow rank-and-filer Shimazuumi (4-4) to improve to 7-1.

Rookie Onosato, a No 15 maegashira, used several powerful arm thrusts to dispatch Endo in a matter of seconds and pick up his seventh win against a lone loss. No 13 Endo fell to 1-7.

It's just a shoe!


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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