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Hakuho, trio still unbeaten

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo News

NAGOYA — Hakuho knocked off another would-be challenger in the form of Hakuba on Friday, extending his personal winning streak to 38 bouts as he aims for a 15th career title at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

The lone Mongolian yokozuna improved to 6-0 to share the lead with Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu and maegashira wrestlers Homasho and Kakuryu at the 15-day meet, which got under way amid a gambling scandal rocking the ancient Japanese sport.

In the day’s final, Hakuho wasted little time with compatriot Hakuba (1-5), blasting the newly promoted komusubi with one massive shot to the shoulder to send him retreating over the edge at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Hakuho, whose winning run began on the penultimate day of the New Year meet in January, is in a bid to become the first wrestler since the introduction of the six-tournament system in 1958 to win three consecutive meets without suffering a loss.

His 45th straight win, which he can achieve on the 13th day here, would also place him in a tie with former yokozuna Taiho for third on the all-time list. Former yokozuna great Futabayama holds the all-time record with a 69-bout winning streak.

Kotooshu, who is the only European to ever win an Emperor’s Cup, grappled out Mongolian Kyokutenho (3-3) in an unrelenting frontal attack to stay in front with the yokozuna.

In a battle of European wrestlers, Estonian ozeki Baruto (4-2) rolled Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin (1-5) to the dohyo surface with a well-timed overarm throw after a brief standstill.

Veteran ozeki Kaio swatted down Aminishiki (2-4) immediately after the faceoff to pick up a fifth win against one defeat.