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Hakuho, Chiyotaikai remain tied for lead

Kyodo

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.

News photoOzeki Chiyotaikai, right, pushes Estonian wrestler Baruto during their bout at the Kyushu Grand Sumo
Tournament on Friday.
KYODO PHOTO

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.