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Hakuho takes control as Kakuryu stumbles

Kyodo

Hakuho seized sole possession of the lead with a ninth win at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday after fellow Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu suffered a shock first defeat at the hands of Yoshikaze.

Looking to move within one title of the all-time record of 32 held by legendary yokozuna Taiho with another championship victory here, Hakuho (9-0) was his usual dominant self at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The yokozuna got both arms wrapped around fourth-ranked maegashira Takarafuji (4-5) and sent him backpedaling over the straw ridge moments before Kakuryu unraveled in the day’s last bout.

Kakuryu (8-1), like Hakuho, has looked unstoppable so far at the 15-day meet, but he surrendered his share of the lead after getting lost amid a hailstorm of slaps and shoved out of the ring by third-ranked maegashira Yoshikaze (6-3).

Mongolian No. 10 maegashira Ichinojo triumphed to stay one win back and keep his championship hopes alive on his debut in the elite makuuchi division, but ozeki Kisenosato’s title chances took a hit with a second defeat.

Kisenosato was able to stand his ground as Goeido (6-3) attempted a leg trip, but newly promoted Goeido found a way to finish with a headlock throw and claim ozeki bragging rights.

Ichinojo secured a majority of wins to stay in contention, the giant 21-year-old turning the tables on 12th-ranked Sadanoumi (6-3) and bumping him over the edge.

Asked if he was nervous with a winning record riding on the bout, Ichinojo said, “No, I wasn’t really thinking about anything and just tried to wrestle my own way.

“I am pleased. I will focus on each bout and do my best to show my brand of sumo.”

Ozeki Kotoshogiku dug in deep to belly out komusubi Chiyotairyu (1-8) and hand him a majority of defeats, while improving his own record to 5-4.

Endo was saddled with a losing record after sekiwake Takekaze (5-4) pulled the top-ranked maegashira down to an eighth defeat.

In the day’s opening bout, 40-year-old warhorse Kyokutenho dropped three wins off the pace after the Mongolian No. 14 maegashira was muscled out by 13th-ranked Chinese grappler Sokokurai (5-4).