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Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012

News photo
Down he goes: Fifth-ranked maegashira Tochiozan (left) pushes Takayasu out of the raised ring on Friday at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo. KYODO

Title-chasing Harumafuji improves record to 13-0


Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to close in on a second consecutive title and promotion to yokozuna at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Harumafuji, winner of the Nagoya Basho in July, looked to be heading for his first defeat after fellow ozeki Kisenosato slid him back over the sandy surface and up against the ridge at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

But Harumafuji turned the tables and Kisenosato (10-3) could not find a response as the Mongolian stood firm to claim a well-earned force-out win and move to 13-0 with two days remaining.

Harumafuji still has Hakuho breathing down his neck, however, the lone yokozuna serving up several juicy shots to Kakuryu's head before shoving the ozeki out to stay firmly in title contention.

Hakuho is the only wrestler who can catch Harumafuji after Kisenosato, Kyokutenho, Takayasu and Kakuryu all lost for the third time.

Harumafuji can clinch the title on Saturday if he beats Kakuryu and Hakuho loses to nemesis Kisenosato.

At sekiwake, Goeido moved into the winner's column at 7-6 after sending No. 4 maegashira Aminishiki (8-5) packing with a well-timed head lock throw, and Myogiryu (9-4), making his debut at sumo's third-highest rank, then shattered Kyokutenho's slim title hopes by bulldozing the summer title winner out in a matter of seconds.

Ninth-ranked Takayasu also dropped to 10-3 when he was crushed out by fifth-ranked maegashira Tochiozan, who secured a majority of wins at 8-5.

Also Friday, battle-weary Georgian wrestler Kokkai has decided to call time on his career and submitted retirement papers to the Japan Sumo Association.

Kokkai's stablemaster Oitekaze said the former komusubi, currently a 12th-ranked juryo division wrestler, has knee, neck and shoulder problems and no longer has the drive to keep on fighting.

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