Kakuryu Wins On Opening Day Of New Year Tournament

Yokozuna Kakuryu made a winning start to his first meet back from injury Sunday on the opening day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The Izutsu stable wrestler, who hurt his right ankle at the Nagoya tournament last July, easily defeated No. 1 maegashira Hokutofuji in his opening bout by hand pull down.

Fellow yokozuna Kisenosato, who likewise missed part of each of the last four meets through injury, lost his comeback bout to komusubi Takakeisho, however.

After unsuccessfully attempting to push his opponent from ring, Kisenosato was yanked out by an arm-bar throw, dropping to 0-2 against Takakeisho.

Yokozuna Hakuho, looking to extend his record title haul to 41 tournaments, made short work of komusubi Onosho, despite being forced back to the edge of the ring on the initial charge. The yokozuna retained his poise, however, toppling the Onomatsu stable wrestler, thrusting him down to secure the victory.

Prior to the first top division bout, Japan Sumo Association chairman Hakkaku and the wrestlers from the uppermost ranked assembled in the raised ring and bowed to the audience. Hakkaku vowed to “continue striving to uplift” the ancient sport, without specifically addressing the scandals that have rocked the sumo world.

The JSA the previous day announced that top referee Shikimori Inosuke will retire over his sexual harassment of a teenage referee, with news of the incident coming shortly after the retirement of yokozuna Harumafuji over the bar fight in which he attacked lower-ranked wrestler Takanoiwa.

No. 10 maegashira Aminishiki, in his first bout since dramatically maintaining his place in the top division on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in November, fell to No. 11 Kotoyuki.

The oldest wrestler to earn re-admission to the makuuchi division, 39-year-old Aminishiki, appeared to lose his footing and was easily dispatched by slap-down.

Ozeki Takayasu defeated No. 2 maegashira Yoshikaze by armlock throw, while ozeki Goeido bout beat No. 1 maegashira Ichinojo by front push out.

Sekiwake Mitakeumi defeated No. 2 maegashira Kotoshogiku, improving to 7-3 against the heavier former ozeki by forcing him backward out of the ring.

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