Harumafuji Wins His First Emperor’s Cup

Yokozuna Harumafuji capped the 15-day Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in an ideal way on Sunday, beating rival yokozuna Hakuho at Aichi Prefectural Gym to secure his first Emperor’s Cup in four tournaments and his eighth overall.

Ozeki Kisenosato’s hopes to win his first career title ended in vain again. He beat ozeki Goeido to notch his 12th win, but it was one win short of Harumafuji, resulting in his third successive runner-up finish.

The speedy Harumafuji took advantage after the jump-off. He grabbed his opponent’s belt with both hands while preventing Hakuho’s left hand from reaching his mawashi. After several motionless moments, Harumafuji furiously marched forward to force his opponent out of the ring.

Hakuho ended up with a disappointing 10-5 record.

“I approached every day, every bout as if my life were on the line,” Harumafuji said during a televised post-tournament interview. “I’ve recently been suffering from a string of injuries, so I want to express my gratitude to my stablemaster, his wife, members of the supporting organization and the fans who all supported me.”

Kisenosato put on a strong performance, forcibly pushing Goeido (7-8) out of the ring. He waited beside the ring in hopes of a playoff, but could only watch another possible title slip away.

Goeido finished with a losing record and needs to post at least eight wins in the next tournament in autumn to avoid demotion.

No. 10 maegashira Takanoiwa also finished with 12 wins, beating No. 5 maegashira Yoshikaze.

Ozeki Terunofuji narrowly avoided demotion from sumo’s second-highest rank, notching his eighth kachikoshi victory by defeating sekiwake Kaisei (7-8).

Terunofuji put Kaisei off-balance after the jump-off, then locked up the leg of the sekiwake with his arm to dump his opponent to the ring.

An ozeki is demoted to sekiwake if he posts a losing record for two straight tournaments.

Takanoiwa wins Fighting Spirit

Takanoiwa’s surprising run in this basho won him the Fighting Spirit Award. It was the first time the 26-year-old Mongolian from the Takanohana stable won one of the three honors given to top-division wrestlers.

No. 2 maegashira Takarafuji (10-5) also won the honor. He was the center of attention early in the tournament, beating yokozuna Hakuho and two ozeki — Goeido and Kotoshogiku — over the first five days. The 29-year-old had also never won the three prizes before.

The Outstanding Performance Award went to Yoshikaze (10-5), who beat Harumafuji on the ninth day. Komusubi Takayasu (11-4) won the Technique Award.

Article originally published in The Japan News

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