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Hakuho finishes with perfect record

Kyodo

Newly crowned champion Hakuho wrapped up the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament with a hard-fought victory over fellow yokozuna Harumafuji, winning the basho 15-0 for a record ninth time Sunday.

Hakuho had shared the career record for titles with a perfect mark with Futabayama and the late Taiho. But the Mongolian overtook the legends with a clinical uwatenage win in the day’s final bout against countryman Harumafuji, who ended up 9-6 — the second time he has finished in single digits in wins since being promoted to sumo’s highest rank in November.

Hakuho, who netted his 24th Emperor’s Cup on Friday to tie current Japan Sumo Association chief Kitanoumi on the all-time list, was all smiles after his latest feat.

“I hold those two yokozuna in the highest regard,” Hakuho said. “I don’t just respect them, but I love them. This was the last day of the tournament, and I wanted to wrestle well and finish on a high note.”

Hakuho asked the crowd at Bodymaker Colosseum to observe a moment of silence for Taiho, the most successful yokozuna in sumo who passed away in January.

“I would like to ask everyone, just for a minute, to pay our respects to Taiho — a great man,” Hakuho said. “I managed to move next to Kitanoumi at this meet, and I would like to tie Asashoryu at No. 25.”

Also Sunday, former ozeki and current juryo wrestler Miyabiyama announced his retirement at the age of 35.