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Hakuho equals legendary yokozuna Chiyonofuji with 1,045th career victory

Kyodo

Hakuho reached yet another milestone by tying late yokozuna Chiyonofuji at 1,045 career victories after beating fourth-ranked maegashira Kagayaki at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Yokozuna Hakuho remained peerless at the 15-day tournament, improving to a perfect 9-0 with an easy win over Kagayaki, whom he slammed to the dirt in their first career meeting.

The victory put him on equal footing with one of sumo’s legends in Chiyonofuji, who passed away in July of 2016. The 32-year-old Hakuho, now the winningest yokozuna ever, is three years younger than Chiyonofuji was at the time of his final victory.

Hakuho also moved within two wins of former ozeki Kaio’s all-time record, which, barring injury or some unforeseen event, will almost certainly be rewritten by the end of the current basho.

Hakuho will face No. 5 maegashira Chiyoshoma (4-5) on Tuesday. Chiyoshoma defeated ozeki Goeido (5-4) on Monday.

“I’m really happy about this,” said Hakuho, who was given a bouquet of flowers and waved to the crowd at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium on his way back to the dressing rooms.

The Miyagino stable wrestler is one win ahead of No. 8 Aoiyama in the title race here and two ahead of a pack of four, including new ozeki Takayasu.

Aoiyama rebounded from his first defeat of the tourney a day earlier, but cut it close as the judges had to convene over his win against No. 11 Chiyonokuni (3-6).

Chiyonokuni, bloodied after taking a hard slap to the face, appeared to have sent Aoiyama tumbling to his second loss. But the judges caught Chiyonokuni stepping out of the ring before his opponent hit the ground, and declared Aoiyama the winner.

“I was sure I saw his foot go out first, so I’m glad that was confirmed and I was able to win,” Aoiyama said. “The big thing is to stay focused and wrestle well, and keep doing that each and every day.”

Takayasu, who had won seven straight after losing on the first day, failed to put up much of a fight against komusubi Yoshikaze (5-4). After locking horns at the tachiai, Yoshikaze got a firm grip on the belt and simply pushed Takayasu out with minimal resistance from the ozeki.

The other yokozuna in the field, Harumafuji (6-3), was stunned by fourth-ranked Ura (6-3), who earned his first career victory over a yokozuna.