Of all days to make the sumo report, I’m tickled today happened to be my day. Well, that’s not why I’m tickled, but moving on…I write this before seeing any action today, I don’t mind in saying that there is a good chance I get to announce today, unofficially, whether or not Harumauji becomes the 70th Yokozuna.
Three items in Juryo news first. Firstly, we have Johnny Appleseed himself, Takamisakari hanging tough with at 7-7, though today was a loss. Sitting at Juryo 8, even with a loss tomorrow it appears he’ll be safe from falling out of the division, and thus not yet calling it quits.
Next, the leader board. Let’s hope we’re bound for a playoff on Senshuraku in this division. At 10-4, we have Ikioi, Jokoryu (the former Sakumayama), and at 9-5 is Kotoyuki, Tamawashi, Kotoyutaka, Chiyonokuni, and Yoshiazuma. Jokoryu will be up in Makuuchi in Kyushu, and this shatters Kotooshu and Aran’s record of 11 basho for fastest trip from start to the top division (Jokoryu will make it in 9).
Lastly, allow me to make mention of Kokkai, whom after 11 and a half years since breaking through to become the first rikishi from the Republic of Georgia, has decided to hang up the mawashi. Kokkai came to Japan with a true desire to fight professional sumo, not only to just get out of the doldrums of being a wrestler in Eastern Europe, and he made quite a career. The man was a pusher-thruster, and had a hell of a shoulder blast back in the day which would bloody any opponent’s nose, but his style of sumo did leave him vulnerable to injuries. Kokkai was an iron man who fought for 11 years without going kyujo once, despite plenty of aches and pains in his elbow and neck the last few years. He also collected two kimboshi in his career, both against the great Asashoryu. Late in his career, the injuries got the best of Kokkai and he started to rely on henka more than anything to win. Kokkai should be remembered for more than just being the hairiest man in sumo. There was a time when Kokkai was well above Gagamaru and Tochinoshin on the banzuke. There was a time Kokkai brought us some great sumo, and I wish him the best back in Georgia.
On to the bottom or the top, M14E Asahisho (8-5) vs. M12W Takarafuji (4-9): Asahisho was all about the aggressive thrusts, but Takara-delux seemed to easily withstand the attack. Though Delux was moving backwards, he was simply waiting for Shio to miss on one of the thrusts. Once he finally did, Delux finished him off with a frontal crush-out. Takarafuji ‘improves’ to 5-9 while Asahisho falls to 8-6.
In the geriatric division championships, old timers M11E Kyokutenho (10-3) and M11W Wakanosato (6-7) hit the clay with a head-to-head 21-13 in Waka’s favor. Waka drove straight forward and gained both hands inside, but the Mongol was pulling up on Waka’s elbows, keeping himself alive. Waka drove Kyoku from one end of the ring to the other, and back again in this position. The Tsugaru Oji-san took a short breather, gained some apple-power, and finally drove Kyoku out. Wakanosato improves to 7-7 while Kyokutenho falls to 10-4. I’m glad to see both these men keeping the young boys honest in sumo at this age.
M9E Kitataiki (4-9) vs. M16E Takanoyama (6-7): at the tachiai, Czech-mate goes straight to the left and grabbed AKT’s arm for some sort of pull move. AKT stayed close and taking a move from his opponent’s play book, used his right leg to trip the beanpole with an outside leg-trip win. Kitataiki improves to 5-9 while Takanoyama finally gets his makekoshi at 6-8.
In a bout with two rikishi looking for special prizes, M4E Aminishiki (8-5) took on M9W Takayasu (10-3). In five previous meetings, Sneaky has won them all. Today, Sneaky drove forward from the tachiai, gaining a left-hand inside and staying low on his opponent. Taka came back trying some thrusts but Sneaky was too close and had a deep grip. Taka spun around and attempted a kotenage, but Sneaky kept driving on Takayasu and won with an old fashion force-out win. Aminishiki improves to 9-5 while Takayasu falls to 10-4.
SE Myogiryu (9-4) vs. M5W Takekaze (7-6): there wasn’t much question Myogi had this win, but it’s important to cover this because we may be watching the start of Myogiryu’s Ozeki run. Myogi thursts, Takekaze slipped and Myogi took him out with a rear push-out win. Myogiryu advances to 10-4 while Takekaze falls to 7-7 and will have to wait his fate tomorrow on Senshuraku.
And with all that I hope I’ve wetted your whistle for the bout everyone has been waiting for. OE Harumafuji (13-0) vs. OW Kakuryu (10-3): head-to-head goes 16-8 in Haruma’s favor. The big tachiai, and Harumafuji dug his head into the Kak’s chest, got his left deep on the Kak’s mawashi and right deep under the Kak’s arm pit. It was so easy, so fast, and the Kak came with absolutely nothing. If it wasn’t yaocho, why the hell is the Kak an Ozeki? Harumafuji improves to 70th Yokozuna with a 14-0, and 30 bout winning streak. The Kak falls to 10-4, but is on ‘safe’ ground as an ozeki.
The man who receives chikaramizu from Harumafuji is YE Hakuho (12-1) who took on OW Kisenosato (10-3). Hak leads the head-to-head 27-8. A Hakuho loss would automatically give Harumafuji the yusho, and their bout tomorrow would be rendered irrelevant as far as this basho is concerned. Damn hard tachiai by the Yokozuna with a powerful shoulder-blast which Kissy withstood, but they separate for a bit then Hakuho initiated a thrusting attack squarely toward Kissy’s jaw. Hak pounded ass, and finished Kissy off with a slap-down win. Hakuho improves to 13-1 and Kisenosato falls to 10-4.
Like it should be, the yusho will be determined in the final bout on Senshuraku, or in a playoff thereafter. Great showing by Hakuho today. Fishy bout by Harumafuji, but label that man Yokozuna nonetheless.
It all comes to a climax tomorrow, thanks to Dick Montana.