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Yokozuna Hakuho takes down Kisenosato

Kyodo

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho sentenced front-running ozeki Kisenosato to his first defeat on Wednesday, grabbing a share of the lead in the process at the Spring Grand Tournament.

Kisenosato, who famously ended Hakuho’s 63-bout winning streak at the 2010 Kyushu tournament and also beat him at the New Year’s meet in January, looked nervous in the day’s last bout at Edion Arena Osaka.

After one false start, Hakuho, sumo’s most successful wrestler with 35 career championships, went steaming into the ozeki and sent him out to improve to 42-13 in their head-to-head series.

The title race remains close with four days of action left, with Hakuho and Kisenosato at 10-1 alongside ozeki Goeido. Myogiryu is a win behind at 9-2, while five other wrestlers have 8-3 marks.

Goeido, who came into the tournament with his ozeki rank on the line, stayed in the thick of the title race with an impressive win over Harumafuji (7-4). The Osaka native floored the Mongolian yokozuna with a kubinage headlock throw.

Yokozuna Kakuryu (8-3) chased out komusubi Tochiozan to post a winning record. Tochiozan suffered his ninth loss.

Meanwhile, Kotoshogiku’s bid for promotion to yokozuna is almost certainly over as he went flying to the dirt after the charge in his bout against Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji. Both men have 7-4 marks.

Kadoban Terunofuji, who withdrew from the last tournament due to knee and shoulder injuries, only needs one more win to retain his ozeki status for the summer meet in May.

New Year’s tournament champion Kotoshogiku, came into this meet needing to win or at least contend for the title to have a chance at becoming the first Japanese-born yokozuna since Wakanohana in 1998.

Elsewhere, Toyonoshima’s return to sekiwake for the first time in 23 tournaments hit a new low with a ninth defeat at the hands of top-ranked maegashira Kotoyuki, who secured a majority of wins with an eighth victory.

Yoshikaze, another sekiwake that has impressed in recent tournaments but is struggling in Osaka, also dropped to 2-9 after being manhandled by second-ranked Okinoumi (4-7).

No. 6 maegashira Myogiryu remained two wins off the pace after shoving out 13th-ranked Chiyootori (6-5).

Fourth-ranked maegashira Ikioi (8-3) tore into 11th-ranked Ichinojo (8-3) with a head charge and surged forward to bump the Mongolian giant out of the ring and secure a winning record.

“I got stuck in hard and never gave up. I am not thinking about winning or losing. It is all about giving it your best shot over the 15 days,” said Ikioi.