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Hakuho beats rival Harumafuji to collect 29th title

Kyodo

Hakuho won his 29th career Emperor’s Cup when he dispensed with yokozuna rival Harumafuji in the finale of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Hakuho captured his first title in two meets with a 14-1 mark and moved to within two titles of yokozuna great Chiyonofuji and three from the all-time mark of 32 set by the legendary Taiho.

Kisenosato (13-2) had a chance to force a playoff and went on the rampage in the day’s penultimate bout against Kakuryu, unleashing a fierce thrusting attack to send his opponent over the edge to an unflattering 9-6 record in Kakuryu’s yokozuna debut.

At that point the ozeki, who was aiming to become the first Japanese-born wrestler to capture a title since Tochiazuma won the 2006 New Year basho, was still in the race. But the ozeki was not in it for long.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe looking on from the crowd — the 10th sell-out audience at Ryogoku Kokugikan — Hakuho once again proved why he is still the master of the raised ring.

Hakuho quickly darted to his left and tactically grabbed the back of Harumafuji’s mawashi with a firm left grip before pulling his opponent over with an overarm throw. Harumafuji, who had been in the running until a loss to Kisenosato on Saturday, finished with a mediocre 11 wins.

“Last tournament I couldn’t win and I felt bad. It’s meaningful that I could win my 29th title at the age of 29,” said Hakuho. “I was really tired at the end. Now I want to go out and eat a lot of meat.”

Asked if he had hoped to fight a championship playoff against Kisenosato, who he had beaten on the 12th day, Hakuho said, “That’s what I was prepared to do — I was planning on fighting twice.

“I’m getting closer to Taiho’s record of 32 and so now I really have to buckle down and train hard in the mornings and keep pushing everyone, especially the younger wrestlers.”

Sekiwake Goeido, who beat Hakuho on the 11th day but had an up-and-down basho, sent ozeki Kotoshogiku (5-10) rolling with an overarm technique to finish with a passable 8-7 mark and picked up his fourth Outstanding Performance Prize. Kotoshogiku will need eight wins at the Nagoya basho in July to avoid relegation.

Egyptian-born Osunaarashi, who is nursing a sore right heel, picked up his 10th win when he got his left hand on the top of Kyokushuho’s (9-6) mawashi before driving his opponent over the edge.

Endo, who had a bumpy ride in his fifth tournament in the top class, got his left hand on the back of Takanoiwa’s (3-12) mawashi after a short grappling exchange and tossed down his opponent to finish with a 7-8 record.