Sekiwake Kotonowaka took a step toward his first career championship and promotion to the second-highest rank of ozeki Thursday by retaining the sole lead on the 12th day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kotonowaka, who is chasing the 13 wins he likely needs here for ozeki promotion, had little trouble securing his 11th against No. 14 maegashira Onosho (8-4), who has plummeted from title contention with three straight losses at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Onosho, a former komusubi, was unable to budge the 189-centimeter sekiwake on his opening charge and crashed when he lost his footing on the sandy surface.

Kotonowaka (L) slaps Onosho down to defeat on the 12th day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan arena on Jan. 25, 2024. (Kyodo)

Three wrestlers, yokozuna Terunofuji, ozeki Hoshoryu, the nephew of former yokozuna Asashoryu, and ozeki Kirishima, sit one win back of the leader with 10 wins and two losses.

Terunofuji handed No. 15 Onosato (8-4) his third straight defeat. Wrestling in his first tournament since he pulled out on the fourth day of July's tourney due to injury, Terunofuji absorbed the charge of the up-and-coming makuuchi-division debutant, seized an overarm hold and flung Onosato from the raised ring.

Hoshoryu received the charge of No. 12 Takanosho (8-4), pivoted and brought him down with a slick "shitatenage" underarm throw.

Kirishima faced a stiff challenge from No. 10 Tamawashi (7-5). The ozeki needs either his second straight championship or a championship-caliber record in the 15-day meet to join Terunofuji at the top of the sumo wrestler hierarchy.

The ozeki gave ground as he repeatedly failed to slap his opponent to one side. But when Tamawashi lowered his head in an effort to bull him backward over the straw, Kirishima slapped the veteran maegashira down to defeat.

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