Hakuho had Tokitenku seeing stars at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday as sumo’s supernova floored the top-ranked maegashira to remain on track for a record-breaking winning run.
Chasing his 16th Emperor’s Cup, the Mongolian yokozuna showed none of the early jitters on display in Sunday’s opening win over Kakuryu, slapping down winless Tokitenku in a flash to extend his remarkable streak to 49 bouts.
“You could say it was all over in an instant. I guess that is proof that my body is moving well,” said Hakuho.
Hakuho won his third consecutive 15-0 basho in Nagoya in July and is third on the all-time list for most consecutive victories. Another four straight wins will see him match the 53-bout run by former yokozuna great Chiyonofuji.
A fourth straight shutout here would leave Hakuho just seven wins short of legendary yokozuna Futabayama’s all-time leading streak of 69 wins.
Feeling the heat after a recent yakuza-linked gambling scandal rocked the sport to its core in July, the Japan Sumo Association is banking on Hakuho to bring the fans back in droves after the opening day at Ryogoku Kokugikan failed to sell out.
Sumo’s governing body has pledged to sever all ties with the yakuza and its chairman Hanaregoma on Sunday opened the tournament with an apology for sumo’s “biggest crisis since the founding of the sport.”
“Everything is back in order so I feel compelled to be at my best. It’s my responsibility,” said Hakuho.
Also Monday in the upper echelons of sumo’s elite makuuchi division, Kaio, Harumafuji and Bulgarian Kotooshu all won to remain perfect but Estonian behemoth Baruto suffered an upset at the hands of surly komusubi Kisenosato
Wrestling with his ozeki status on the line for the 13th time, Kaio got a vice-like right-handed grip on Wakanosato’s (0-2) mawashi and blasted the veteran out for a textbook win.
Harumafuji pounced on a momentary lapse in concentration by Homasho (0-2), the Mongolian upending the popular maegashira with a rare “susotori” ankle pick technique.