Sumo

Terunofuji Stays in Title Chase with Clutch Win Over Wakatakakage

The lone yokozuna is one win off the pace with three days left.

Terunofuji (left) faces Wakatakakage in a Summer Grand Sumo Tournament match at Ryogoku Kokugikan on May 19. (KYODO)

Grand champion Terunofuji stayed in the title chase on Thursday, May 19 when he overpowered a determined Wakatakakage on Day 12 of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Shortly after the face-off in the day’s final bout, Terunofuji got his arms under those of the komusubi and used an arm-barring force-out to improve to 9-3 and remain one win back of sole leader Takanosho.

Wakatakakage fell to 6-6. 

With just three days left in the 15-day basho at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Terunofuji is tied at 9-3 with lower-ranked wrestlers Ura and Sadanoumi.

Takanosho stayed in the sole lead at 10-2 when he took advantage of a mistake by rank-and-filer Ichiyamamoto.

Shortly after the face-off, No. 15 maegashira Ichiyamamoto attempted to pull down Takanosho by placing both hands on the back of his opponent’s head. 

But that allowed No. 4 maegashira Takanosho to use several powerful thrusts to the chest to send Ichiyamamoto backpedaling out of the ring. Ichiyamamoto fell to 8-4.

In key matchups on Friday, Terunofuji will take on Takakeisho while former sekiwake Takanosho faces Wakatakakage.

No. 6 maegashira Wakamotoharu overpowered Kiribayama to send the Mongolian No. 2 maegashira to his fourth loss, effectively knocking him out of contention. Wakamotoharu improved to 7-5.

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Maegashira No. 6 Ura spun to his side at the edge and thrust ozeki Takakeisho out to improve to 9-3 and stay in the title chase. Takakeisho dropped to 6-6.

No. 12 maegashira Sadanoumi came in low, placed his hands on the chest of Shimanoumi and thrust his opponent to move to 9-3 to also stay in the hunt for the silverware. Shimanoumi, a No. 8 maegashira, fell to 7-5.

Eleventh-ranked maegashira Aoiyama used a powerful series of arm thrusts to send Azumaryu out in a one-sided bout.

Bulgarian Aoiyama wrapped up a winning record and improved to 8-4 while No. 15 maegashira Azumaryu fell to 5-7.

Aoiyama won his first six bouts but couldn’t stay in contention with four losses in his last six contests.

“I’ve been trying to stay calm and do my brand of sumo,” Aoiyama said. “I got off to a good start in this tournament and now just want to finish strong.”

Ninth-ranked Tochinoshin got a left-hand grip on the belt of Myogiryu and shoved the No. 12 maegashira out to wrap up a winning record and improve to 8-4. Myogiryu dropped to 5-7.

Mongolian Hoshoryu moved one step closer to wrapping up a winning record when he channeled his inner Asashoryu and used several powerful arm trusts to oust Kotonowaka.

Komusubi Hoshoryu, the nephew of the former Mongolian grand champion, picked up his seventh win against five losses while No. 2 maegashira Kotonowaka slipped to 6-6.

Komusubi Daieisho secured a winning record at 8-4 when he swatted down No. 3 maegashira Tamawashi (6-6) immediately after the face-off.

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Daieisho wrapped up a winning mark in sanyaku for the first time in a year.

“I was able to get some big wins in this tournament,” said Daieisho, who beat Terunofuji and two ozeki earlier in the basho. “I’ll just try to avoid losing for the remaining bouts and finish strong.”

Shodai Eyes Winning Record

Tobizaru and Shodai needed a rematch after they both toppled out of the ring in their first bout. 

In the second attempt, Shodai overpowered the flying monkey Tobizaru with several arm thrusts to pick up his fifth win against seven losses.

Ozeki Shodai is hoping to do what he did in the previous tournament: wrap up a winning record after a horrendous first half. If he wins his remaining three bouts he will do just that.

No. 5 maegashira Tobizaru, who can be forgiven for thinking he won the first bout, is also at 5-7. Video replays showed Shodai’s leg touched the dirt surface before Tobizaru fell out but the ringside judges called for a rematch nonetheless.

Sekiwake Abi (6-6) used his trademark two-handed thrusts to dispatch ozeki Mitakeumi in a matter of seconds.

It’s been a disastrous showing for New Year tournament winner Mitakeumi, who lost his seventh bout and is now in danger of not securing a winning record.


Author: Jim Armstrong

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

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