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Dominating Hakuho marching toward title

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo News

NAGOYA — At this point there are few, if any, left from the tattered ranks who can stop Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho as he zeroes in on his 15th career title in sole possession of the lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

After handing out a beating to sekiwake Kotoshogiku on Wednesday, the lone yokozuna is likely to bump heads with the three remaining ozeki in the coming days but none of them appear up to the challenge of pulling off an upset, let alone snapping his incredible winning streak, which he has stretched to a personal-best 43 bouts.

Away from the ring, sumo has been facing a public relations nightmare after revelations of a gambling ring surfaced in the Japanese national sport and there have been reports of alleged ties to the criminal underworld on almost a daily basis since the start of the Nagoya meet on July 11.

In the day’s final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Hakuho wasted little sweat on Kotoshogiku (3-8), sending him crashing to the dohyo surface with a powerful right-handed beltless arm throw with minimal effort.

Ozeki Baruto (8-3) had his hands full against upset-minded Kisenosato (6-5), who pounced on the Estonian goliath with a fierce thrusting attack until he was sent sprawling over the edge with a hard shove to the chest.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu touched the dirt with both hands after he was swatted down by Tokitenku (6-5) immediately after the faceoff, leaving him at 8-3.

In another key bout, Homasho, who has been on a personal-winning run of his own, finally met his match in the form of Mongolian former sekiwake Kakuryu, who executed a perfectly timed beltless arm throw as the No. 13 maegashira attempted to tackle him over the edge.

Kakuryu (9-2), who landed on top of Homasho (10-1) in the second row of ringside seats, appeared shaken up from the fall before exiting the auditorium.

Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji (7-4) won his bout by default over veteran ozeki Kaio (6-5), who pulled out of the meet the same day with an injured left shoulder.

Tochinoshin of Georgia was sent out to a losing record with an eighth defeat at the hands of Russian Aran, who improved to 7-4, while fellow komusubi Hakuba of Mongolia fell to his ninth loss after Kitataiki (5-6) spun around to shove him over the ridge.