Yokozuna Hakuho wins the May 2017 Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, earning his 38th top-division championship with a perfect record of 15-0. Over the course of fifteen wins he used seven different kimarite (winning techniques): yorikiri (5), hatakikomi (2), uwatenage (2), uwatedashinage (2), yoritaoshi (2), uwatehineri, and oshidashi. Congrats to the champ!
Ozeki Terunofuji’s all like, “You’re gonna be Ozeki next tournament, Takayasu, but until then I outrank you. You go ahead and try that arm throw from the right side, I’ll clamp on an armlock and introduce you to the ground.” And Takayasu’s all like, “OK, you made your point, my arm’s a little sore now, but don’t forget that I’ve beat you more times than you’ve beat me. I’ll see you in July.” Terunofuji finishes 12-3, Takayasu 11-4. But Takayasu still holds the edge in head-to-head bouts with Terunofuji, eight wins to seven.
There aren’t many wrestlers who can push Takayasu back at the tachiai, and Shodai isn’t able to do it today. But he fights back through Takayasu’s strong slaps, reaching under with his left arm just as Takayasu secures the overarm grip. Shodai leans hard into Takayasu’s body to counter the throw, and manages to keep horizontal long enough for Takayasu to touch down first. The win gives Shodai a 9-5 record. Takayasu, at 11-3, will face Ozeki Terunofuji tomorrow on the last day.
Takayasu proves his mettle against Harumafuji, recovering nicely after whiffing on an overarm throw that lets the Yokozuna get behind him. Spinning back to face Harumafuji just in time to absorb a hand to the throat, Takayasu holds his ground before slapping down hard just as Harumafuji charges. The Yokozuna tumbles off the dohyo and Takayasu remains standing. This brings to three the number of wrestlers at 11-2 (Harumafuji, Terunofuji, and Takayasu), the only men still with a chance to deny Hakuho his 38th championship.
Takayasu keeps his championship hopes alive with a convincing uwatenage (overarm throw) win over Takarafuji, but he’ll need to win his last three bouts against Yokozuna Harumafuji, Ozeki Terunofuji, and probably Okinoumi or Aoiyama to have a realistic chance at the title. Regardless of the outcome, his tenth win today likely means he’ll be promoted to the exalted rank of Ozeki next tournament, an honor he well deserves (and which I predicted in January, talking about Mitakeumi and Takayasu: “one of whom I predict will be the next new Ozeki, maybe even sometime this year.”)
Tochiozan wants none of what Takayasu brought today. Takayasu owns the tachiai, and a simple slap down sends Tochiozan sprawling. At 9-2, Takayasu is still in the thick of the title hunt, and one win away from probably Ozeki promotion next tournament.
This is the first bout of the tournament with real championship implications, with Yokozuna Hakuho trying to knock Takayasu down the ladder and two losses out of contention. But Takayasu doesn’t go down easily, putting up a real fight and turning in an admirable performance against the mighty Hakuho. Hakuho is having a legitimately hard time moving Takayasu around, especially after Takayasu breaks the Yokozuna’s right-handed underarm grip, but he gets his posture nice and low with his head in Takayasu’s chest. Giving up on regaining the right-hand grip, Hakuho seizes his chance and charges forward, bullrushing Takayasu out of the ring where both men crash to the floor. Hakuho stays perfect at 10-0, tied with fellow Yokozuna Harumafuji, and Takayasu falls to 8-2, tied with Terunofuji, Shodai, Tochinoshin, and Ura. Five more wrestlers are still in the hunt at 7-3. Five days to go!