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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011

Six wrestlers tied for lead in Autumn Basho


FUKUOKA — Kisenosato stayed firmly on course for promotion to ozeki with a confident win over komusubi Toyonoshima on Tuesday, the third day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Toyonoshima came into the bout buoyed by a pair of wins over ozeki Baruto and Kotooshu, but Kisenosato never looked in serious danger at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Kisenosato weathered Toyonoshima's attempt to spin him around and blasted out the komusubi with a barrage of meaty neck thrusts to stay among the early pacesetters at the 15-day basho.

Ozeki debutant Kotoshogiku also won comfortably to stay perfect and yokozuna Hakuho kept his share of the lead in a group of six wrestlers with 3-0 marks.

Meanwhile, Kotoshogiku continued to impress in his first tournament since being promoted to sumo's second rank, drawing in winless komusubi Homasho and thrusting him to the dirt at the edge of the dohyo.

Kotoshogiku is fighting as the first Japanese wrestler to assume the ozeki rank in four years. Disgraced former ozeki Kotomitsuki was the last Japanese wrestler to gain promotion to the rank after the 2007 Nagoya Basho. He was banned for life from the national sport for betting on pro baseball in an illegal gambling racket last summer.

Hakuho, bidding for his 21st Emperor's Cup, had little trouble in the day's final bout against Goeido, tossing down the top-ranked maegashira with a perfectly executed overarm throw.

In other bouts, Estonian ozeki Baruto squandered a couple of chances to tip over Okinoumi (1-2) and paid the price by getting yanked out to a second upset defeat at the hands of the top-ranked maegashira. Harumafuji suffered a shock first loss when he was beaten by fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho (1-2).

But Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu moved back into the winning column, charging out Georgian No. 2 maegashira Tochinoshin (0-3) to post the second of eight wins he needs to retain his rank.

Sekiwake Kakuryu, who blew his chance of promotion at the autumn meet, cemented his place among the leading pack, prevailing in an entertaining slugfest against third-ranked Gagamaru (1-2).

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