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!
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.
This one’s a bit long, but it’s a prime example of the tension that builds before a sumo bout, a facet of the sport that’s missing from most highlight videos. Check out the stare as they slowly settle in for the charge. Ice cold. The crowd feels it. Tamawashi flinches at the tachiai and decides to reset, standing back up and forcing Hakuho to go through the motions again. Hakuho purposefully sets his feet and lowers himself to meet Tamawashi, but this time it’s Hakuho who appears unnerved(!) and stands up. The crowd goes nuts and the referee looks flummoxed. The build-up is intense, and the referee tells both men several times to get their hands down. This time the bout goes off without a hitch, but Hakuho slaps and sidesteps at the tachiai! Tamawashi does a great job fighting off the fierce throat attacks of Hakuho and working to get a belt grip, but Hakuho has a mighty left-handed overarm grip of his own and that’s all he needs. The Yokozuna keeps it simple and squashes Tamawashi at the edge of the ring, winning by yoritaoshi (front crush out). Tamawashi has a fine record of 9-4, and Hakuho stays perfect at 13-0. The only way Hakuho loses the tournament is if he loses both remaining bouts against Terunofuji and Harumafuji, and then a playoff against Harumafuji and/or either Takayasu or Terunofuji (both of whom can’t finish with only two losses, since they’ll likely face each other on the last day). Things are looking good for Hakuho’s 38th top-division title.
Shohozan pops Yutakayama a few times in the face to get his attention, but the tide of the bout really turns when Shohozan goes for the belt. With both arms around Yutakayama’s waist, Shohozan presses forward despite a last-ditch effort from Yutakayama to shrug him off to the side. Shohozan wins by yoritaoshi, or front crush out. If he’d had more solid performances like this earlier in the tournament, Shohozan might not be sitting on a losing record of 5-8. Yutakayama drops his eleventh loss.
Osunaarashi has been languishing in the second-tier Juryo division for a while, unable to fully recover from a series of injuries that dropped him from his highest rank of Maegashira 1 in 2015. Already with a makekoshi (losing record) this tournament, he’ll fall farther down the Juryo ranks next time around, where he’ll be joined by Yutakayama, almost certain to drop back down to Juryo due to a makekoshi from his current M16 rank. It’s small consolation for Osunaarashi to earn a victory in today’s bout, but his form still looks suspect. He stands too upright, relying on strength over technique to muscle Yutakayama around and squash him over the edge by yoritaoshi (front crush out). A brief conference of the judges confirms that Yutakayama touched down before Osunaarashi’s foot went out. Watch it again just to see Ishiura seated ringside, with a nifty move of his own to get out of the way of the two crashing giants.
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!
Kisenosato is displaying the true guts of a Yokozuna, digging deep to find yet another way to win despite the weakness on his left side. Chiyoshoma attacks the Yokozuna’s belt on the left, and Kisenosato struggles to fend off the attack. After two leg trip attempts by Chiyoshoma, Kisenosato finally manages to pull his left hip back and break the grip, getting his chest squared up with his opponent and putting his stronger right arm into play. Chiyoshoma switches to the left-hand underarm grip and pulls from that side, but the Yokozuna has a right-handed grip on Chiyoshoma’s belt and the throw goes nowhere. Chiyoshoma keeps yanking with his left, but Kisenosato’s grip on a single layer of Chiyoshoma’s belt is enough to defend. The Yokozuna, now taking over, marches forward and buckles Chiyoshoma at the edge of the ring, flattening him with a yoritaoshi (front crush out). Mighty show of fortitude. Kisenosato earns his third win, tied with a multitude of other wrestlers two losses behind 5-0 tournament leaders Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Takayasu. With Yokozuna Kakuryu dropping out due to a right ankle injury, the path to the championship is still muddy.