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Hakuho continues romp through early stages

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo News

Speed is half the battle. For Hakuho, it might as well be measured in nanoseconds.

Hakuho outclassed Georgian Tochinoshin in the blink of an eye to improve to a 4-0 mark while relegation-threatened ozeki Harumafuji also remained unbeaten with a thrashing of Toyonoshima at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

In the day’s final bout, Hakuho got his left hand on the top of winless Tochinoshin’s mawashi before spinning the No. 2 maegashira out in one swift motion at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho leads a pack of five wrestlers, including Harumafuji, in the early lead. The lone yokozuna is seeking his sixth straight Emperor’s Cup and 18th overall title.

Hakuho saw his winning streak snapped by Kisenosato at 63 bouts at the Kyushu meet last November, leaving him six shy of Futabayama’s all-time mark, but has left a wake of destruction in his path since.

Harumafuji, who must post eight wins to avoid relegation after pulling out of the Kyushu meet last November with a right ankle injury, pummeled Toyonoshima (1-3) with a salvo of throat thrusts before sending the top-ranked maegashira into the ringside seats with a hard shove.

The remaining three wrestlers at sumo’s second-rank of ozeki also came through unscathed.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (3-1) muscled out Russian Aran (2-2) after getting his right hand on the back of his opponent’s mawashi.

Estonian Baruto (3-1), meanwhile, dodged a bullet when Aminishiki (1-3) jumped to the side and almost shoved the ozeki over the edge, recovering with a slap down technique as he teetered on one leg.

Veteran Kaio (3-1) read winless Yoshikaze’s (0-4) thrusting attack like a book before deploying an arm pull and sending the No. 2 maegashira out from behind.