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With 29 Emperor’s Cup wins to date, yokozuna Hakuho is already the third most successful grand champion in the almost 260 years of sumo’s recorded history. Only Taiho, who was primarily active through the 1960s with 32 wins, and Chiyonofuji, active from the 1970s to the early ’90s with 31 wins, stand between the sport’s best ever non-Japanese rikishi and the title of “best ever.” Or so people think.

Hakuho’s greatest hurdle in eventually moving past Taiho — a man he so long idolized — could well be his own reluctance to do so.

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