FUKUOKA – Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho gunned down local favorite Kaio to edge a step closer toward a fifth Emperor’s Cup at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
Tournament on Friday.
With two days of the 15-day meet remaining, Hakuho improved to 11-2 while ozeki Chiyotaikai also retained his share of the lead by easily smashing his way past Estonian skyscraper Baruto.
Baruto, back in sumo’s top flight after winning the second-tier juryo division in September, dropped into second place on 10-3.
Hakuho silenced a fiercely partisan crowd in the day’s finale at Fukuoka Kokusai Center as he manhandled Kaio and sent the struggling ozeki flying to the dirt with a shove from behind.
Hakuho, who meets Chiyotaikai on Saturday, is wrestling as the lone yokozuna in the absence of suspended compatriot Asashoryu.
Kaio, whose rank is on the line for a record 11th time, dropped to 7-6 and needs to win one of his last two bouts to stay at ozeki.
The 35-year-old has said he will hang up his “mawashi” belt and retire if he does not post a majority of wins in front of his hometown fans.
In the day’s penultimate match-up, Baruto appeared nervous at the “tachi-ai” face-off and Chiyotaikai pounced and quickly spun the 16th-ranked maegashira around and marched him over the straw bales for the win.