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Hakuho joins exclusive 40-win club in Nagoya

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo News

NAGOYA — Yokozuna Hakuho extended his winning streak to 40 bouts at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday, becoming only the fourth man to achieve the feat in the history of the ancient sport.

With his victory over fellow Mongolian Tokitenku, Hakuho joined former sumo greats Futabayama (69), Chiyonofuji (53) and Taiho (45) in one of the most exclusive clubs of the sport.

The scary thing is the yokozuna is making his amazing run at a time when sumo is facing its biggest crisis ever over a widespread gambling scandal and he appears only to be getting warmed up.

Hakuho shares the lead with compatriot Kakuryu, who sent Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu to a shock first defeat, and Japanese-born maegashira Homasho with 8-0 records.

In the day’s final bout, the wrestlers grappled for superior position and the upset-minded Tokitenku appeared to have a chance of pulling off a shocker as he knocked the yokozuna off-balance slightly in front of a capacity crowd at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

But once Hakuho locked in on his opponent’s mawashi, he sent the No. 3 maegashira sailing over the edge with a powerful left hand as both men took off into the air. Tokitenku, who proclaimed a day earlier that he hoped to etch his name in the record books by beating Hakuho, slipped to 5-3.

Kotooshu appeared to have his bout against Kakuryu under control when he hemmed the No. 6 maegashira up with a firm belt grip, but the crafty Mongolian deployed a beltless arm throw at the last second that sent the ozeki flying over the edge.

Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji (4-4) battered Hakuba (2-6) with a series of well-placed shoves before propelling the newly promoted komusubi off the raised ring with a thud.

Estonian ozeki Baruto (5-3) blasted out Kitataiki (2-6) but not before almost tripping over the edge himself when he lost his balance in a decidedly shaky performance.

Veteran Kaio (6-2) gave another sumo clinic, sending out Kyokutenho (3-5) with a frontal attack in textbook fashion after getting inside for his favored right-leaning grip.