Hakuho stays tied for New Year lead


Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho put on another sumo clinic to beat Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin on Friday and preserve his unbeaten record six days into the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho, seeking a record-extending 36th career title, was never in danger in the third-from last bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, getting a firm left-handed grip on Tochinoshin’s (2-4) belt and sending him sprawling to the sandy surface with an overarm throw.

There was no change at the top of the leaderboard heading toward the end of the first week at the 15-day basho as ozeki Kotoshogiku and No. 8 maegashira Takayasu also won handsomely to keep their share of the lead at 6-0.

Yokozuna Harumafuji, winner of the Kyushu tourney in November, got both hands on No. 4 maegashira Kyokushuho’s (2-4) belt before bundling him over the ridge to sit one win off the pace in a tie for second place at 5-1 alongside sixth-ranked Okinoumi and 14th-ranked Toyohibiki.

Kakuryu (4-2), the most recent Mongolian addition to sumo’s highest rank, rebounded from Thursday’s shock defeat to Ikioi in style, overpowering winless Bulgarian No. 2 maegashira Aoiyama to wrap up the day’s action.

Kotoshogiku stayed firmly in contention to become the first Japanese-born wrestler in a decade to lift the Emperor’s Cup, getting in low at the charge and finishing off top-ranked maegashira Shohozan (1-5) with a powerful neck thrust.

Takayasu was in total control in his bout against Amuru (3-3), charging the 11th-ranked Russian grappler over the edge to keep his share of top spot.

Elsewhere, Kisenosato (4-2) came out on top of an epic tussle with Mongolian skyscraper Ichinojo (1-5), outmuscling the third-ranked maegashira to register a second consecutive win.

Newly promoted sekiwake Yoshikaze pulled out all the stops in a full-blooded encounter with Ikioi (2-4) and prevailed by dumping the komusubi off the dohyo to improve to 4-2.

Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji earlier in the day pulled out of the meet due to a broken right collar bone and forfeited his bout against sekiwake Tochiozan (3-3).

Terunofuji (3-3) suffered the injury on Wednesday in his win against Aoiyama and left the ring wincing in pain after a defeat to Kyokushuho on Thursday.

Terunofuji will not be rejoining the 15-day meet, according to his stablemaster Isegahama, meaning he will be faced with the threat of demotion for the first time since becoming ozeki at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka in March.

Veteran maegashira Aminishiki (2-4) also withdrew due to influenza, handing ozeki Goeido a fourth win by default, while 14th-ranked maegashira Jokoryu (2-4) pulled out of the meet with a right-knee injury sustained in a defeat to Chiyotairyu on Thursday.