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Hakuho clinches title

Kyodo

Bruised but far from broken, Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho defeated Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu to clinch his 26th Emperor’s Cup with two days to spare at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

The hardware was put on a plate for Hakuho after Aoiyama, the only other wrestler with a mathematical chance at the title, fell to a third loss at the hands of Takayasu.

Despite being heavily taped up after injuring his right abdomen in Thursday’s win over Kotoshogiku, Hakuho was in total control and twice got hold of Kotooshu’s (9-4) right arm and yanked him around the ring.

“I am relieved and satisfied,” said Hakuho. “I think I deserve the championship for the way I have wrestled. I really started to find my form from the middle of the tournament.”

Hakuho insisted on battling on after X-rays showed bruising and a slight tear along his right side, but no structural damage.

“There was no problem. I went to the hospital yesterday and there were no broken bones.”

Hakuho improved to 13-0 and became the first foreign-born wrestler to win 26 titles.

Winner of the spring and summer meets with perfect 15-0 marks, he also extended his unbeaten run to 43 matches.

“I’ve won the title on the 13th day and just want to keep going on the last two days,” he said.