Yokozuna Kakuryu wins the March 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, his fourth top-division championship and his first since November 2016. He finished with an excellent 13-2 record, losing only to defending champ Tochinoshin and Ozeki Takayasu. Over the course of the tournament he used four different kimarite (winning techniques): hatakikomi (6), yorikiri (3), oshidashi (3), and tsukiotoshi (1).
Abi brings the same two-handed tachiai as usual, aiming for the shoulders and trying to stand up Daishomaru. He follows with a series of sharp tsuppari thrusts at the head and neck, and only a well-timed sideways shove from Daishomaru knocks him off course. With Abi briefly off-balance and near the edge, Daishomaru charges, but Abi quickly circles out of the way and gets a hand on Daishomaru’s belt to send him rolling over the edge. The referee and judges decide that Daishomaru hit the ground while Abi’s feet were still in bounds. Abi finishes with an excellent 10-5 record, and Daishomaru should be happy at 9-6 (although he lost a couple of close ones in the last few days).
Yokozuna Kakuryu clinches the title with his Day 14 win over Ozeki Goeido. At 13-1, even a loss tomorrow can’t deny him the championship, as the closest competitors have three losses already. Goeido plays his part, letting his upper body get way out ahead of his feet and falling victim to Kakuryu’s expected retreat-and-pull. Kakuryu will win his fourth tournament championship, and his first in about a year and a half.
“Olé!” or whatever the matadors say.
This one’s a bit anticlimactic for a bout between the two tournament leaders, but Kaisei has never had any success against Yokozuna Kakuryu. Losing eleven straight against Kakuryu going into today’s bout, Kaisei adds to his loss tally by standing up and immediately falling down, victim to Kakuryu’s quick jump backwards and strong slap to the back of Kaisei’s head. Kakuryu sits alone atop the leaderboard at 12-1, with the only possible challengers two losses back at 10-3. Ozeki Takayasu, M6 Kaisei, and M14 Ikioi have a shot only if Kakuryu loses the last two days to Takayasu and Goeido.
This tournament’s only Ozeki-on-Ozeki battle starts with a good tachiai, Takayasu pushing on Goeido’s head and Goeido getting his hands tangled in the silk strings on the front of Takayasu’s belt. Takayasu shifts strategy, suddenly pulling down on Goeido’s head and retreating, with Goeido stumbling forward and falling to a 9-4 record and out of yusho contention. Takayasu improves to 10-3, still two losses behind tournament leader Kakuryu but mathematically still in it.
Mitakeumi shouldn’t have this much trouble with Hokutofuji, but here we are. The bout ends up very entertaining as a result, a rambling affair that weaves back and forth all across the dohyo. Hokutofuji survives a good left-handed sukuinage (beltless arm throw) attempt at the edge, and returns the favor with a dangerous push on Mitakeumi’s arm that sets up a strong throat shove, putting Mitakeumi on his heels. With victory in his sights, Hokutofuji lunges forward just as Mitakeumi escapes to the side, pushing down on Hokutofuji’s shoulders and driving him into the dirt. Big relief for Mitakeumi who avoids his eighth loss, improving to 6-7. Hokutofuji also finishes the day at 6-7.