Hakuho alone at top


Yokozuna Hakuho took a big step toward his 30th career championship on Thursday, when he defeated ozeki Kotoshogiku to take the sole lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

The pair entered the 12th day of the 15-day tournament at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium with identical 10-1 records. Kotoshogiku’s defeat left him one win off the pace and in a tie for second with yokozuna Kakuryu (10-2), who easily disposed of No. 4 maegashira Tamawashi (2-10) in the day’s final bout. Eleventh-ranked maegashira Takayasu also improved to 10-2.

Although Kotoshogiku got a belt hold and prevented Hakuho from getting one of his own, the yokozuna rarely looked threatened and switched to Plan B. He wrapped up the ozeki’s extended arm and twisted him down to defeat with an armlock throw. It was Hakuho’s 40th career win against Kotoshogiku in 44 bouts.

Veteran sekiwake Goeido fell to his third defeat in a scintillating bout with yokozuna Harumafuji (8-4), who beat Goeido for the 21st time in their 29 career bouts. Goeido, who beat Hakuho the day before, pressed Harumafuji to the edge on the initial charge. The yokozuna, however, escaped and slowly gained the initiative. Goeido was able to counter several attempted throws, but his heels were gradually pressed back to the straw bales.

Unable to tip Goeido over at the edge, Harumafuji drew his opponent slightly inward toward the center of the ring and swiftly executed an overarm throw that just barely managed to topple the stubborn sekiwake.

Goeido and No. 7 maegashira Jokoryu are the only wrestlers with 9-3 records.

Ozeki Kisenosato (8-4) lost whatever hopes he had for a come-from-behind championship in Nagoya with a poorly balanced charge off the tachiai in a loss to No. 4 maegashira Takekaze (8-4). With the ozeki crashing toward his right shoulder, Takekaze withstood the charge, then pivoted backward on his left foot and slapped his opponent down.

Takayasu remained in the championship picture by winning a tough bout against No. 5 maegashira Endo (6-6). Takayasu knocked his popular opponent back on the tachiai but was unable to do anything with his advantage.

It wasn’t until well into their match that Takayasu used a belt hold to hoist Endo onto one foot and force him out.

Takanoyama to retire

Nagoya KYODO

The first Czech to reach Sumo’s upper divisions, Takanoyama, announced Thursday that he was retiring from the sport.

In a sport populated by giants, the 31-year-old Takanoyama, whose real name is Pavel Bojar, never reached 100 kg and had to rely on speed and technique. He took part in his first tournament in November 2001. Although Takanoyama didn’t reach the second-tier juryo division until July 2011, he advanced to the elite makuuchi division two months later and fought at the highest level for five tournaments.

“I have too many memories to count,” he told a news conference at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. “I have received so many lessons and I did my best to achieve my dreams.”