Daieisho Pushes through for 1st Title

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Top maegashira Daieisho, right, pushes out No. 5 maegashira Okinoumi during their bout on the final day of the New Year Grand Tournament on Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Daieisho took the ring with his fate in his own hands. The No. 1 maegashira later went back to have the Emperor’s Cup placed in them.

Daieisho became the first wrestler from Saitama Prefecture to win a makuuchi division title when he defeated No. 5 maegashira Okinoumi on the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

“I’m just very happy,” said the 27-year-old Daieisho, who also received two of the post-tournament honors, the Outstanding Performance Award and the Technique Prize, in a ringside interview. “I thought I just have to do my own sumo so I have no regrets. I went out there without any doubts.”

Waiting in the wings during his bout was ozeki Shodai, who went into the day one off the lead and needing Daieisho to lose to keep his own hopes for a second career title alive prior to facing fellow ozeki Asanoyama.

But Daieisho put the matter to bed by defeating a wrestler with whom he still has an overall losing record in head-to-head meetings (9-10), but has now beaten five times in a row.

As he had done all tournament, Daieisho came out firing on all cylinders, using a rapid-fire pushing attack to quickly move Okinoumi back to the edge. A couple of thrusts to the throat straightened up his opponent and set him up for a final shove out of the ring.

With the victory, Daieisho became the sixth wrestler to win in the past six tournaments, an anomaly not so surprising given the recent spate of injury-related absences by the two yokozuna. Both Hakuho and Kakuryu skipped this basho, although Hakuho’s was due to contracting the coronavirus.

Daieisho became the fifth maegashira-ranked wrestler since 2018 to lift the Emperor’s Cup. “I didn’t think it would be that heavy,” he quipped after the award ceremony of the massive trophy. “I was surprised, but I’m happy.”

For what it’s worth, Shodai never got any momentum in his clash with Asanoyama and was shuffled out as both wrestlers ended with 11-4 records. Both came into the tournament needing a majority of wins to keep their ranks, so they at least accomplished that mission.

In other action, sekiwake Terunofuji boosted his chances for earning promotion back to ozeki at the next tournament when he threw down No. 7 maegashira Meisei to finish 11-4.

Terunofuji, who was also awarded the Technique Prize, posted a 13-2 mark in the November tournament, giving him the foundation for securing promotion at the March tournament.

Sekiwake Takanosho slapped down komusubi Takayasu to leave both wrestlers with 9-6 records. The other komusubi, Mitakeumi, also finished 9-6 after pushing out No. 8 maegashira Kiribayama.

Meanwhile, No. 14 maegashira Midorifuji capped a memorable debut in the makuuchi division by also taking home a Technique Prize and going 9-6.