Hakuho edges closer to record

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho moved one away from the career wins mark of the late yokozuna Chiyonofuji on Sunday, when he improved to 8-0 at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho, who won May’s grand tournament with a perfect 15-0 record, is unbeaten in 23 straight matches since he withdrew injured in March. By winning his 1,044th career bout, he moved within one of Chiyonofuji, whose 1,045 are second on the all-time list.

Hakuho, now three wins shy of Kaio’s record of 1,047 victories, started the day tied for the lead with No. 8 maegashira Aoiyama. But the Bulgarian bruiser suffered his first defeat to fall into a two-way tie for second with ozeki Takayasu.

But Hakuho had to overcome an unorthodox attack from No. 4 maegashira Ura, as the tournament passed the halfway mark at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Ura darted in low, trying to wrap up the yokozuna’s legs. But while the tactic threw Hakuho off his rhythm for a moment, it did not topple him and the Mongolian master was able to take charge of the bout. After Ura’s second try failed, Hakuho yanked the 25-year-old to the edge of the ring and toppled him with a beltless arm throw.

Takayasu won his seventh straight bout in no-nonsense fashion, forcing No. 5 Chiyoshoma out to his fifth defeat. The new ozeki used his longer reach to keep the Mongolian maegashira from exploiting his belt hold while twisting him back to the straw and out.

Aoiyama’s perfect start came to a halt at the hands of impressive 21-year-old Onosho (6-2). The youngster was forced back a step as the bout opened but soon had his chance.

The huge Aoiyama missed with a haymaker slap on his opening charge and Onosho seized on that instant of vulnerability to ram into his much-larger opponent’s chest. Before the 195-kg Aoiyama could blink, he was being propelled backward by the 155-kg Onosho and out of the ring to his first loss.

Yokozuna Harumafuji was among the wrestlers a win further back at 6-2 after he overcame a spirited effort against No. 4 maegashira Kagayaki (3-5), who will face Hakuho on Monday.

Elsewhere, former ozeki Kotoshogiku (3-5) surrendered belt holds to fellow komusubi Yoshikaze (4-4) but continued to plow forward and used his momentum to seize control and crush his opponent backward over the straw.