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Yokozuna Hakuho silenced a partisan crowd by overpowering local favorite Kaio on Friday to retain his share of the lead going into the final weekend of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho improved to 12-1 to remain tied for first place with rank-and-filer Toyonoshima, while ozeki Kaio dropped to 11-2 alongside Estonian hulk Baruto in the 15-day meet.

Kaio has been defying the odds with an array of vintage performances in his hometown, but the battle-weary Tomozuna stable veteran was no match for Hakuho in a cup final atmosphere at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Roared on by a boisterous Kyushu crowd, the 38-year-old Kaio came back from the brink after taking a couple of meaty blows to the face at the charge, but Hakuho bundled the ozeki over the bales for an ultimately comfortable win.

Toyonoshima showed no signs of cracking, the No. 9 maegashira getting the better of sekiwake Kakuryu (6-7) after the charge, sending him head over heels out of the dohyo as the Mongolian landed just centimeters away from a startled ringside photographer.

In other bouts, Baruto secured European ozeki bragging rights with a clinical win over Kotooshu (8-5), the former nightclub bouncer getting a grip on his Bulgarian opponent’s belt and flooring him with a textbook uwatenage overarm throw.

Komusubi Tochinoshin (5-8) showed brute strength to see off Kitataiki (3-10), the Georgian bruiser soaking up a head charge and bulldozing his third-ranked opponent out.

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