Unfancied Ichiyamamoto held onto the outright lead Monday at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament with a convincing win over fellow rank-and-file wrestler Tamawashi.
The No. 14 maegashira, who won the second-tier juryo division championship in September, became the first man to secure a winning record at Fukuoka Kokusai Center at 8-1 by thrusting out No. 12 Tamawashi (6-3).
Ozeki Kirishima and sekiwake Kotonowaka remained on the second rung of the leaderboard at 7-2, along with No. 8 Atamifuji and No. 15 Churanoumi, through Day 9 of the 15-day tournament.
Battling a seasoned veteran with two top-division titles, Ichiyamamoto secured a quick victory thanks to his explosive opening hit.
"Since last basho, I've had a nice flow to my sumo," the 30-year-old from Hokkaido said. "I'm simply concentrating on trying to move forward. For now, I just want to get to double-digit wins."
Kotonowaka logged his biggest win of the meet so far, defeating ozeki Hoshoryu (6-3) in one of the day's highlight bouts. While the sekiwake trails 4-10 in head-to-head meetings, he has now won three straight against the Mongolian star after finishing him off with a frontal crush out.
"I kept the pressure on and it paid off," said Kotonowaka after snapping his two-day losing streak.
Kirishima narrowly avoided becoming the second straight ozeki victim of No. 1 Asanoyama, who stunned Takakeisho on Sunday after missing the first seven days with an ankle injury.
The Mongolian ozeki was on the defensive throughout their bout, but was judged to have slapped down former ozeki Asanoyama (1-1-7) a split second before stepping out.
Takakeisho (6-3) made sure he stayed in the hunt by pulling down No. 4 Nishikigi (6-3), who had upset Hoshoryu a day earlier.
Wakamotoharu (4-5) earned a much-needed win against fellow sekiwake Daieisho (5-4), slapping the aggressive pusher-thruster down after he came charging out of the blocks.