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Sumo: Terunofuji outguns Kotonowaka, stays unbeaten through 1st week

Terunofuji, left, defeats Kotonowaka on the seventh day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sept. 18, 2021. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Lone yokozuna Terunofuji outwrestled rising No. 3 maegashira Kotonowaka on Saturday to finish the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament's first week as the outright leader and only competitor with a perfect 7-0 record.

    The newly promoted grand champion displayed his outstanding strength and tactical acumen as he forced talented youngster Kotonowaka out of the ring in the final bout of Day 7 at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

    Having kept the maegashira off his belt at the jump, Terunofuji allowed the powerfully built Kotonowaka (2-5) to establish an inside grip before locking both of his arms and maneuvering him over the edge.

    With fellow Mongolian-born grand champion Hakuho sidelined after two of his stablemates tested positive for COVID-19, Terunofuji's prospects for a fifth Emperor's Cup have been further helped by the lackluster form of wrestlers in the three "sanyaku" ranks below yokozuna.

    His closest rival on the leaderboard is No. 10 Myogiryu, who improved to 6-1 by forcing out No. 7 Shimanoumi (3-4).

    Starting the day one win behind Terunofuji, sekiwake Mitakeumi (5-2) dropped off the pace with a force-out loss to giant komusubi Ichinojo (3-4).

    The two-time grand tournament winner came in too high against the 190-centimer, 208-kilogram Ichinojo, who used his massive frame to drive his opponent out backwards.

    Effectively out of the title race, demotion-threatened "kadoban" ozeki Takakeisho (3-4) earned his third win from the past four days by pushing down dangerous No. 3 Wakatakakage.

    Needing at least eight wins at the 15-day tournament to remain in the sumo's second-highest rank, Takakeisho gave his most convincing performance so far, shoving former komusubi Wakatakakage (3-4) to the sandy surface before he had a chance to mount an attack.

    Ozeki Shodai advanced to 5-2 by blowing away No. 4 Tamawashi, who upset Takekeisho the previous day.

    The ozeki established an inside position from the opening charge and forced Tamawashi (3-4) straight back and out.

    New sekiwake Meisei (3-4) earned his third win in what has been a rough start at sumo's third-highest rank, thrusting down winless No. 5 Chiyoshoma (0-7).

    Struggling komusubi Takayasu (3-4) tallied his third straight victory since snapping a four-match losing streak on Thursday, when No. 1 Hoshoryu (1-4-2) forfeited their scheduled bout due to illness.

    The former ozeki won convincingly against No. 1 Takanosho (3-4), knocking him backward at the jump and shoving him to the clay.

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