Hakuho wins opener in Nagoya


Yokozuna Hakuho crossed the first hurdle without incident in his bid to become only the third wrestler in sumo’s history to win 30 Emperor’s Cup titles on the first day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Kakuryu, fighting in his second meet at sumo’s top rank, saw off Ikioi while Harumafuji, the other yokozuna, steamrolled Bulgarian-born Aoiyama in the penultimate bout.

In front of a sellout crowd at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Hakuho gave Aminishiki a cheeky pop to the chest with his forearm after the latter hesitated to come out of the crouch during one false start.

Once under way, the yokozuna never let his opponent inside for a grip on the mawashi before jettisoning Aminishiki over the straw bales with his left hand.

The 29-year-old Hakuho, who captured the summer title with an outstanding 14-1 mark, has won titles at a torrid pace since his first victory at the 2006 Summer Basho. Now he appears well in reach of attaining the record of yokozuna great Chiyonofuji (31) and the legendary Taiho’s all-time record of 32.

Kisenosato, who is still seeking his first career title since his makuuchi debut in 2004, manhandled Shohozan, plowing his opponent down with a series of slaps before slamming him over the edge.

Ozeki Kotoshogiku, who is facing demotion from sumo’s second-highest rank after a dismal 5-10 showing at the Summer Basho, smacked down Homasho to start on a high note after ringside judges ordered a rematch when the first bout was too close to call.

Sekiwake Goeido, a perennial disappointment in numerous failed bids to aim for the ozeki rank, was sent to a first-day defeat at the hands of Yoshikaze.

Early on, Egyptian-born Osunaarashi, who is set to face the three yokozuna and two ozeki this time out, walloped Tamawashi across the face to send his opponent crumbling to the dirt surface in a matter of seconds.

Endo, who has gained in popularity despite a sketchy record thus far in the elite makuuchi division, was overpowered by Mongolian-born rikishi Terunofuji, who upended the No. 5 maegashira with a powerful frontal forceout.