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Sumo: Terunofuji takes sole lead after 6th straight win at Autumn meet

Terunofuji. facing camera, beats Wakatakakage on the sixth day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sept. 17, 2021. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- New yokozuna Terunofuji overcame a tricky opponent in No. 3 maegashira Wakatakakage to keep his record perfect Friday and take the sole lead after six days at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

    Nimble rank-and-filer Wakatakakage (3-3) got out of a tight spot near the edge before getting himself in a promising position by placing his head on the Terunofuji's chest.

    But the yokozuna's physicality halted the charge, while his long reach prevented Wakatakakage from getting a belt hold. Terunofuji instead locked up both of his opponent's arms and forced him over the straws in a suffocating manner.

    Terunofuji is a firm title favorite here in the absence of another yokozuna Hakuho, the record 45-time champion missing the meet after two coronavirus cases were reported at his stable.

    The fifth championship and first as yokozuna would add to an already remarkable career for the Mongolian-born Teruofuji, whose knee injuries and other health issues saw him drop from the second-highest rank of ozeki to the fifth-tier jonidan division before an unprecedented comeback.

    Chiyonokuni, ranked lowest in the top makuuchi division as a No. 17 maegashira, also entered the day at 5-0 but fell to second-tier wrestler Sadanoumi.

    Chiyonokuni (5-1) launched a strong drive but Sadanoumi swiftly moved to his left to leave the veteran off balance before the No. 3 juryo wrestler pounced to secure a push-out win.

    Ozeki Shodai (4-2) suffered his first career defeat in five meetings against in-form Kiribayama (5-1), who tested Terunofuji in a lengthy bout the day before.

    The No. 2 maegashira quickly held shallow belt holds with both his hands and wasn't overpowered by the stouter ozeki. Kiribayama moved on to grab a deep hold with his left before emphatically forcing the ozeki out.

    Sekiwake Mitakeumi (5-1) brushed aside No. 3 Kotonowaka (2-4) in a brink, bulldozing the up-and-coming 23-year-old out as the two-time champion continued his promising campaign.

    Ozeki Takakeisho (2-4), coming off two straight wins to seemingly get things back on track, could not even his record as he fell to No. 4 Tamawashi (3-3).

    Takakeisho, who pulled out of the Nagoya meet in July with a neck injury, showed courage with his head-on initial charge but Tamawashi held his ground and comfortably won in a force-out.

    A demotion-threatened "kadoban" ozeki, Takakeisho needs wins here to retain his status at the sport's second-highest rank.

    No. 6 Onosho shoved out No. 8 Tobizaru (4-2) from the back, and No. 10 Myogiryu forced out No. 14 Kaisei (2-4) to complete the group of five top-division wrestlers on 5-1.

    No. 4 Daieisho (4-2) was on top throughout his bout against Meisei (2-4), the New Year tournament winner producing his trademark thrusts throughout before slapping the new sekiwake to the clay.

    Takayasu (2-4) won a battle of two struggling komusubi. He was shoved to the edge by Ichinojo (2-4) but made his escape with a right-handed thrust down which was enough to force the giant wrestler off the ring.

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