OSAKA, Japan >> Making his debut at sumo’s highest rank of grand champion, Japanese wrestler Kisenosato won the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
Needing a win in regulation to force a tiebreaker, Kisenosato beat Mongolian Terunofuji to give both wrestlers a record of 13-2.
Kisenosato then threw down Terunofuji, who holds the sport’s second-highest rank of ozeki, in a playoff to wrap up the Emperor’s Cup and his second straight title. Making the win all the more impressive was the fact that Kisenosato badly injured his left shoulder in Friday’s bout with Harumafuji.
After winning the New Year tournament, Kisenosato was promoted to the highest rank of “yokozuna” in January to become the first Japanese-born grand champion in almost two decades.
Previously, the last Japanese promoted to yokozuna was Wakanohana in 1998.