By Shuji Miki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior WriterUra brought excitement to the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, which closed Sunday and was without three top wrestlers — yokozuna Kisenosato, Kakuryu, and ozeki Terunofuji. They had all dropped out halfway through the event.
Ura’s matches against the other yokozuna, Hakuho and Harumafuji, took place around the midway point of the basho. Those bouts are worthy of special mention because of the cleverness Ura showed in his sumo moves.
Although Ura succumbed to Hakuho’s skillful dominance on the eighth day, he did manage to force the yokozuna to take him seriously. Hakuho remained vigilant against the No. 4 maegashira’s tricky moves. At the jump-off, the yokozuna took a step to the left and kept his distance by pushing Ura with his right hand, trying to keep him from getting close. Ura then tried to tackle Hakuho by grabbing his leg, but Hakuho forcefully lifted the maegashira by his right side and flipped him upside down.
“I danced in the air before tumbling headfirst. The yokozuna really is strong,” Ura said of the match.
Even so, Ura gave all he could. Such attitude against a yokozuna would draw praise regardless of the outcome. Among Hakuho’s first eight matches of the basho, the yokozuna’s eyes seemed to burn most intensely when he faced off against Ura.
Meanwhile, in his match against Harumafuji on the ninth day, Ura managed to outwit a yokozuna who looked every bit as sharp as he did.
The yokozuna might have thought he could handle Ura if he kept up his quick moves. As Harumafuji carefully examined Ura’s moves at the jump-off — the opposite approach from Hakuho — Ura plunged headlong into Harumafuji as if he had read the yokozuna’s mind.
Then the dimunitive wrestler quickly grabbed Harumafuji’s right arm before executing an arm bar throw that sent the yokozuna sprawling to the ground. Walking the victor’s path back from the ring amid cheers from the audience, Ura shed tears of joy while relishing his very first kinboshi (a maegashira victory over a yokozuna).
Ura has thoroughly studied the different styles of the two yokozuna. Hakuho managed to fend off the challenge from the 25-year-old maegashira not through his mighty offense, but with a rock-solid defense, shown in the sidestepping after the jump-off — a winning-is-everything approach. I suspect Harumafuji regrets hesitating against Ura.
The Nagoya basho was Ura’s third tournament since promotion to the uppermost makuuchi division in the Spring tournament in March. In addition to his deft moves and sharpness, Ura has now begun to cleverly capitalize on the moves of his opponents.
— Miki is a sumo expert.
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