FUKUOKA – Undefeated yokozuna Hakuho captured his 21st career Emperor’s Cup with room to spare Friday, dispensing with Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu in a convincing display of strength on the 13th day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
The lone Mongolian yokozuna secured his second consecutive title with two days remaining at the 15-day meet — the closest rivals in the title race trailing in Hakuho’s wake by a gulf of three defeats while the grand champion improved to an unblemished 13-0 mark.
Five wrestlers had started with mathematical shots of staying in the title race before Hakuho’s match against Kotooshu.
Both ozeki debutant Kotoshogiku and sekiwake Kisenosato suffered fatal fourth defeats, while the yokozuna decided it outright with a well-timed throw of Kotooshu in the day’s final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Hakuho, who needs one more championship trophy to match Takanohana for career titles, had to struggle when Kotooshu (8-5) got him locked by the neck at the ring’s center but the yokozuna wriggled free, dumping his opponent with an underarm throw.
It is Hakuho’s fifth consecutive time to win the Kyushu Basho.
In another key bout, Kotoshogiku, who is making his debut at sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki in his hometown of Fukuoka, was sent sprawling at the hands of ozeki rival Harumafuji, who notched a winning record with his eighth win.
Estonian ozeki Baruto, meanwhile, outclassed ozeki hopeful Kisenosato after he wrapped his huge arms around his opponent and ushered the sekiwake over the straw bales, leaving both men at 9-4.
Kisenosato needs to win his final two bouts to stand a realistic chance of winning promotion to ozeki.
In an earlier bout, Wakakoyu got locked in a heated staring contest with Shohozan (8-5) before slapping down the makuuchi newcomer with a quick series of shoves to the head to notch double-digit wins.