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Hakuho brushes aside Shohozan

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho took another step toward his 36th career championship on Tuesday, the third day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho, who already holds the record of 35 tournament titles, had little trouble improving to 3-0 against No. 1 maegashira Shohozan at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, and became one of just two wrestlers in the sport’s top two ranks to boast a perfect record.

Yokozuna Harumafuji (2-1) remained a win back of Hakuho with a solid victory against 201-kg Bulgarian Aoyama (0-3), but Kakuryu, the third member of the Mongolian yokozuna triumvirate, suffered an embarrassing first loss.

A day after a slick win over Harumafuji, Shohozan was in the ring against Hakuho, whom he’d never beaten in nine tries. After a solid start, the 139-kg Shohozan (1-2) fell back under a withering volley of shoves and slaps from the larger yokozuna and was forced out.

Kakuryu, who looked unconvincing in his first two wins, was taken by surprise on the tachiai by No. 1 maegashira Aminishiki (2-1). The kinboshi, a victory by a maegashira over a yokozuna, was the eighth of the 37-year-old’s career.

After an embarrassing false start, Aminishiki shot out of the blocks the second time, got his body over the smaller yokozuna and pushed him down.

Kakuryu could do little but stumble forward to the ring’s edge before being shoved out.

“It’s been a long time since my last kinboshi,” Aminishiki said. “I messed up on one tachiai but didn’t let that faze me. I was able to come out firing the second time.”

Kotoshogiku became the only ozeki with a perfect record after three days by holding off the initial charge of 33-year-old “new” sekiwake Yoshikaze (1-2) and driving him out of the ring.

Ozeki Terunofuji suffered his first loss, being forced back out of the ring after a solid effort from struggling former sekiwake Ichinojo (1-2). With both knees braced and heavily taped, Terunofuji was deliberate and determined, but not powerful enough to force his 214-kg Mongolian compatriot over the straw, and the No. 3 maegashira outlasted him.

It was Ichinojo’s second win in eight career bouts against his countryman.

Kisenosato won his second-straight match since suffering an opening-day upset. The longtime ozeki held off winless No. 2 maegashira Takarafuji in a straight-forward frontal forceout to improve to 2-1 for the tournament, and 9-1 in his career against Takarafuji.

Goeido (2-1) became the day’s second ozeki to stumble, losing his battle on the tachiai with Tochinoshin (1-2). The Georgian komusubi struck home quickly and never let up until Goeido was backed out of the ring.

“I’m pretty happy (about the first win),” said Tochinoshin, who will face Kisenosato on Wednesday. “I just wanted to keep pushing forward. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me and I’m going to have to give it my best.