Hakuho admits relief at Osaka win

SAKAI, Osaka Pref. (Kyodo) Yokozuna Hakuho admitted Monday he was a relieved man after winning the first basho of the post-Asashoryu era at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.

With Asashoryu having recently retired from sumo amid claims he attacked a man in January, all the pressure was on Hakuho as the lone yokozuna to capture his 13th Emperor’s Cup.

The Mongolian was pushed all the way by Estonian sekiwake Baruto but held his nerve to slam down ozeki Harumafuji in the final bout of the tournament to finish with a perfect 15-0 record.

“It was incredibly tough. I am relieved more than anything,” Hakuho told a news conference. “No matter how much I drank (celebrating) last night, I could not get drunk. Maybe that means I have become stronger both in body and mind,” joked Hakuho.