FUKUOKA – That was more like it.
After a day of playing the “The Great Houdini” followed by a sluggish performance, Hakuho was back to his terrorizing self, demolishing Kakuryu to remain in a share of the lead at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
The lone Mongolian yokozuna improved to 10-1, leaving him in a tie with Estonian ozeki Baruto, ozeki Kaio and rank-and-filer Toyonoshima with four days remaining at the 15-day meet.
In the day’s final bout, Hakuho pounded countryman Kakuryu at the charge and sent the sekiwake reeling over the edge after getting a firm belt grip at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Kakuryu fell to a 5-6 mark and is now 0-15 in career bouts against Hakuho.
After losing to Kisenosato on the second day, snapping his winning streak at 63 bouts to fall short of Futabayama’s all-time record of 69, Hakuho has been struggling to turn his attention to the task of winning his fifth consecutive title.
Kaio once again found a way to survive certain defeat when he was bounced around the ring like a pinball by Takekaze (4-7), clumsily spinning off the No. 4 maegashira before falling on top of him to remain in a share of the lead by the slimmest of margins.
The Fukuoka faithful cheered loudly for their native son, who appeared to hurt his right knee, but walked unassisted from the ring.
Baruto barely broke a sweat as the goliath wrapped his left hand around Yoshikaze (5-6) before taking him over the edge in a textbook frontal force out. Baruto is aiming to become the second European to win a title after Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu.
Kotooshu (8-3) momentarily retreated in his bout against Tochiozan (4-7) before getting on track to usher the sekiwake out in a matter of seconds.