Mongolian Hakuho claims first Emperor’s Cup

Ozeki Hakuho of Mongolia defeated sekiwake Miyabiyama in a playoff Sunday to win the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament and his first Emperor’s Cup.

News photoOzeki Hakuho forces sekiwake Miyabiyama out of the ring in a playoff to claim
his first Emperor’s Cup on the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament
at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Hakuho, making his debut at sumo’s second-highest rank, got a left-hand grip of Miyabiyama’s belt in the playoff at Ryogoku Kokugikan and used all his might to lift the bulky veteran over the straw ridge after a prolonged standoff.

Grand champion Asashoryu of Mongolia pulled out after the second day of the tournament with an injured elbow.

Asashoryu, who won eight of the last nine tournaments, was the odds-on favorite heading into the Summer meet and his withdrawal opened the door for wrestlers like Miyabiyama, Hakuho and Baruto.

Hakuho, who was promoted to the sport’s second highest rank in March, is the fourth-youngest wrestler in modern sumo history to be promoted to ozeki after Takanohana, Taiho and Kitanoumi, who all went on to become yokozuna greats.

His only loss of the tournament was to Miyabiyama on the fifth day.

Miyabiyama assured himself of at least a playoff berth when he used a series of arm thrusts to send No. 2 maegashira Asasekiryu over the straw ridge.

Miyabiyama improved to 14-1 while Asasekiryu fell to 10-5.

Several bouts later, Hakuho set up the decisive playoff when he dodged to his side seconds after the faceoff and swatted Estonian Baruto down to improve to 14-1.

It was an impressive tournament for No. 11 maegashira Baruto, who was making his debut in the elite makuuchi division and finished with a record of 11-4.

In other bouts, ozeki Kaio beat Mongolian Kyokushuzan to improve to 9-6. Kyokushuzan, a No. 5 maegashira, also finished with a 9-6 record.

Bulgarian Kotooshu wrapped up a winning record when he stood Chiyotaikai up after the faceoff and then swatted his fellow ozeki down to pick up his eighth win against seven losses.

Chiyotaikai tried to deploy his trademark arm thrusts but was no match for his taller opponent and hit the dirt surface to close with a 10-5 record.