Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho defeated ozeki Kotooshu to capture his eighth championship title on the penultimate day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
Closest rivals ozeki Kotomitsuki and sekiwake Ama both suffered third losses at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo and Hakuho took full advantage in the day’s finale, outmuscling Bulgarian Kotooshu to clinch the Emperor’s Cup with his 13th win.
Hakuho (13-1) had his work cut out in the day’s featured bout as Kotooshu (7-7) stood firm to create a prolonged stalemate at mid ring. But the yokozuna broke free and sent Kotooshu sprawling to the dirt with a trademark overarm throw to claim his second straight title.
“I am pleased,” said Hakuho, adding the pressure had eased following defeats for Kotomitsuki and Ama. “To be honest it made me feel a bit more at ease, and I just went for it.”
Hakuho’s triumph comes on the back of an imperious performance at the last tournament in July in Nagoya, where he romped to the title with a flawless 15-0 mark.
He will wrap up the meet on Sunday as the only yokozuna standing again after rival yokozuna Aasashoryu’s recent struggles continued when he pulled out of his second straight meet with an injured elbow earlier in the week.
“I felt I had to carry out my responsibility as a yokozuna. I’m glad,” said Hakuho, who meets Kotomitsuki in his final bout on Sunday.
Kotomitsuki (11-3) tamely lost control of Kaio’s belt and was sent backpedaling out of the ring in the face of an onslaught from his ozeki rival. Kaio fell to 9-5.
Ama’s title hopes also suffered an ultimately fatal blow when fifth-ranked maegashira Goeido pulled him off balance and finished the job with a routine shove at the ring’s edge. Goeido moved into double digits at 10-4. Ama dropped to 11-3.
In other bouts in the upper echelons of the makuuchi division, ozeki Chiyotaikai barely broke sweat as he blasted out Tochinonada (5-9) with a flurry of thrusts to improve to 9-5.
Estonian titan Baruto survived another day by claiming a seventh win in his bout against Kyokutenho, who dropped 5-9, but fellow komusubi Asaekiryu (4-10) was sent packing in an all Mongolian battle by Kakuryu (7-7).