Photo/IllutrationMitakeumi after defeating Tochiozan to secure his first career title at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in Nagoya's Dolphins Arena on July 21 (Masaki Yamamoto)

NAGOYA--Sekiwake Mitakeumi clinched his first career title at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on July 21 as he leads the race with just one loss.

Mitakeumi, 25, defeated Tochiozan, rank-and-file maegashira No. 13, on Day 14 of the 15-day tourney at Dolphins Arena here by shoving him out of the ring.

Afterward, Mitakeumi was so overcome with emotion and wiping back tears that he could not respond to questions about his victory.

He is the first champion to have graduated from Toyo University, where he was a promising wrestler.

Earlier in the day, two wrestlers who were behind him by two bouts--maegashira No. 9 Yutakayama and maegashira No. 13 Asanoyama--pinned their hopes on a possible play-off on the last day of the tourney.

They were betting that Mitakeumi would suffer another loss both on Day 14 and Day 15, thereby keeping their hopes alive.

But it was not to be.

The tournament was marked by the absence of all three yokozuna--Hakuho, Kakuryu and Kisenosato. They were absent due to injuries. Tochinoshin, who was promoted to the second highest rank of ozeki, after yokozuna, following the tournament in May, also dropped out after he injured his right big toe.

That gave other wrestlers a better chance to reach the much sought-after title.

Mitakeumi, who is known for swift frontal attacks, had led the tourney with a perfect record until Day 12, when he suffered his only loss in a bout against ozeki Takayasu.

Mitakeumi tended to lose heart following a defeat, and would chalk up a string of losses in past tournaments.

But on Day 13, he outmuscled ozeki Goeido.