The Japan News No. 1 maegashira Hokutofuji got the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament off to a rousing start with an impressive win over legendary yokozuna Hakuho on the opening day Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Hokutofuji secured a belt hold while keeping Hakuho off his belt, then charged ahead while keeping a solid base to shuffle the Mongolian great out of the ring.
The 34-year-old Hakuho, with a record 42 titles to his name, has recently taken Japanese nationality as he closes in on retirement.
Fellow yokozuna Kakuryu, aiming for a second title in a row after winning the previous Nagoya tournament in July, looked solid in slapping down komusubi Endo.
The two ozeki in action (the third, Takayasu, is sitting out the tournament), both of whom need winning records to keep their ranks, had mixed results.
Goeido continued his dominance of No. 1 maegashira Aoiyama, pushing him out for his 23rd win in 26 career meetings, while Tochinoshin looks to still be affected by a left knee injury as he easily collapsed under pressure from No. 2 maegashira Ichinojo.
Sekiwake Takakeisho got off to a good start in his bid to regain the ozeki rank when he came out on top of a rugged battle with No. 3 maegashira Daieisho.
The two brawlers mixed fierce shoving attacks that at various points left both off balance. But in the end, Takakeisho shrugged off an attack and sent Onosho sprawling to the dirt for the first of the minimum 10 wins he needs to return to ozeki.
Takakeisho was the toast of the sumo world when he won his first makuuchi division championship as a komusubi in November last year, and was promoted to ozeki for the May tournament this year. But injuries took their toll and he was demoted to sekiwake after sitting out the entire Nagoya tournament.
The other sekiwake Mitakeumi, who has remained in the sanyaku — the three ranks below yokozuna — for 16 consecutive tournaments, was pushed out by No. 2 maegashira Asanoyama, winner of the Summer tournament in May.
Earlier, mighty mite Enho thrilled the fans when the 98-kilogram No. 11 maegashira, pushed to the edge by 159-kilogram No. 11 maegashira Onosho, sent him sailing to the dirt with a well-timed arm throw.