• Kyodo


Yokozuna Hakuho got back into the trenches Saturday, kicking off his training for the upcoming New Year Grand Sumo Tournament following a relaxing vacation in Okinawa.

Donning a brand-new, sparkling white training mawashi, Hakuho, who enters his eighth year at sumo’s highest rank, held sparring sessions with wrestlers in the second-tier juryo division at his Miyagino stable in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.

“I still feel strong and healthy just like last year,” said the 28-year-old Hakuho, who won four of the six tournaments in 2013 and moved alone into third on the all-time list with his 27th career championship. “It will be tough, but as a yokozuna I will work hard this year as well until the final bout.”

This year, the Mongolian-born yokozuna has a chance to match, or perhaps surpass, legendary yokozuna Taiho, who holds the all-time record with 32 career championships.

“If I am able to obtain the record while facing the pressure, it will be a good year for me. If I pay attention to avoid injuries and follow my routine, the results will come.”

Hakuho, who normally spends the end of the year in Tokyo, instead spent his time lulling about Okinawa.

“I was able to enjoy the countdown to the New Year while I was out on the town,” he said. “They say that the New Year doesn’t start for wrestlers until after the New Year Basho, but I think spending time like that gives me balance.”