Hakuho takes sole lead as Kakuryu blinks first


Hakuho remained on course in a bid for his 22nd career Emperor’s Cup while countryman Kakuryu fell out of a share of the lead with the lone yokozuna as the second week of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament kicked off Sunday.

The Mongolian was poetry in motion as he quickly dispensed with Tochinoshin in a frontal force-out to improve to a perfect 8-0 record, but sekiwake Kakuryu was given a sumo clinic by ozeki Kisenosato, dropping to his first loss in the day’s penultimate bout.

Kakuryu, who is eyeing a possible run at sumo’s second-highest rank, sits in a trio, including yokozuna-chasing Baruto and rank-and-filer Shotenro at 7-1, while four others trail with 6-2 marks heading into the final week.

In the day’s most-anticipated matchup, Kakuryu never got out of the gates against Kisenosato, who crushed his opponent with a hard hit at the face-off before upending the Mongolian sekiwake with a flurry of shoves as a full house sent out wild cheers at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Baruto, gunning for promotion to sumo’s highest rank, mauled Tokitenku (2-6) in a lopsided affair, putting the No. 2 maegashira into an iron-clad throat grip as he shunted him into the ringside seats.

Harumafuji (6-2) grabbed Kyokutenho around the throat as he torpedoed full speed ahead, the Mongolian ozeki shoving his countryman over the straw bales to condemn him to an eighth loss.

Ozeki Kotoshogiku (6-2) backed the 199-kg Gagamaru (1-7) to the edge, using all his might to heave the Georgian komusubi before deploying a perfectly timed overarm throw.

Kotooshu (5-3) was the sole ozeki casualty this day as he was sent flying headlong over the edge by sekiwake Aminishiki (4-4), who improved his career slate to 15-15 against the Bulgarian wrestler.