Yokozuna Terunofuji Moves Into a Share of the Lead at Summer Basho

The Mongolian grand champion is tied with Takanosho and Sadanoumi with two days left.

Terunofuji defeats Takakeisho at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on May 20 at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. (KYODO)

Grand champion Terunofuji defeated Takakeisho on Friday, May 20 to move into a tie for the lead with two other wrestlers on Day 13 of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the day’s final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the yokozuna finally claimed a share of the lead with a frontal crush-out win over ozeki Takakeisho to improve to 10-3. Takakeisho dropped to 6-7.

Terunofuji came into the 15-day summer meet under a cloud of concern over knee and heel injuries that forced him to pull out on Day 6 of the previous tournament in March. But his results seem to put those concerns to rest.

Terunofuji, Takanosho and Sadanoumi are all at 10-3.

Four wrestlers ― Ura, Daieisho, Kiribayama and Aoiyama ― are at 9-4 and still alive.

Terunofuji is seeking his third Emperor’s Cup at sumo’s highest rank. He won his first two tournaments as a yokozuna in September and  November last year, but has been unable to return to the winner’s circle since then.

He went 11-4 in this year’s New Year Basho but lost out to Mitakeumi on the final day.

Wakatakakage Halts Takanosho’s Win Streak

Former sekiwake Takanosho (10-3) fell out of the sole lead when he came out sluggish against sekiwake Wakatakakage and was swatted down to suffer his third loss.

Takanosho, now tied with Sadanoumi, is seeking his first-ever championship. The Tokiwayama stable wrestler was on a nine-bout winning streak coming into Friday’s showdown with Wakatakakage.

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No. 12 maegashira Sadanoumi stayed right in the title chase with a hard-fought win over Mongolian Hoshoryu.

Sadanoumi used a frontal crush-out at the edge to improve to 10-3. Komusubi Hoshoryu has been tough to beat of late and was extra motivated on Friday to wrap up a winning record but fell to 7-6.

No. 6 maegashira Ura, still in the hunt, was shoved out by Abi to fall to 9-4. Sekiwake Abi used his trademark arms thrusts to improve 7-6 and can wrap up a winning record on Day 14.

In an all ozeki showdown featuring two wrestlers desperate to win, Mitakeumi got both arms around Shodai and used a frontal force-out to improve to 6-7.

Mitakeumi, the New Year tournament winner, can wrap up a winning record on Day 15. The same can’t be said for Shodai. He fell to 5-8 and will be relegation-threatened in the next tournament.

Ozeki wrestlers failing to win eight bouts in consecutive tournaments are relegated to sekiwake, sumo’s third-highest rank.

Sumo officials cannot be pleased by the lackluster performance of the three ozeki wrestlers in the summer tourney. All three are struggling just to secure winning records.

Aoiyama Outwrestles Shimanoumi

Bulgarian Aoiyama, a No. 11 maegashira,  shoved out eighth-ranked maegashira Shimanoumi (7-6) to improve to 9-4.

No. 6 maegashira Wakamotoharu, the older brother of Wakatakakage, overpowered Mongolian rank-and-filer Azumaryu (5-8) to improve to 8-5 and ensure himself a winning record.

Mongolian No. 2 maegashira Kiribayama got both arms around Tochinoshin and hoisted the giant No. 9 maegashira over the edge to pick up his ninth win against four losses. Tochinoshin fell to 8-5.

Komusubi Daieisho swatted down Ichiyamamoto to hand the rank-and-filer his fifth loss. Daieisho has had an impressive showing in the Summer Basho and improved to 9-4.

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Popular No. 4 maegashira Endo used a superb arm throw to defeat  Takayasu for his sixth win against seven losses. Top maegashira Takayasu fell to 4-9.

Author: Jim Armstrong

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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