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Hakuho edges closer to Autumn Basho title

Kyodo

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho moved a step closer to winning his 31st career title on Wednesday after a comfortable win over Takekaze kept him one win clear with four days remaining at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

With the win, Hakuho improved to 11-0, with fellow yokozuna Kakuryu and 10th-ranked maegashira Ichinojo keeping up the chase with 10 wins at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho was given a scare by Osunaarashi on Tuesday, but the yokozuna had little trouble dealing with Takekaze (5-6), drawing the sekiwake in before beating him with a textbook hatakikomi slap down.

Hakuho is chasing a third straight Emperor’s Cup and a championship victory here would move him within one title of the all-time record of 32 held by legendary yokozuna Taiho.

After two false starts, Ichinojo opted for a frowned-upon henka move to beat Kisenosato (7-4), dodging to the ozeki’s side at the charge and slapping him down to the dirt.

“I wanted to get forward and get my right hand inside but stopped halfway and pulled back,” said Ichinojo. “There were two matta (false starts) so I got a bit tense.”

Allowed to start his pro career in the makushita division after a successful amateur showing, Ichinojo became the first wrestler in 14 years to beat an ozeki on his makuuchi debut. Tochinohana beat Chiyotaikai and Takanonami at the 2000 summer meet.

“That makes me really happy and I will do my best again from tomorrow,” he said.

Ozeki Kotoshogiku made short work of Egyptian Osunaarashi (4-7) with a two-handed shove to the chest at the edge of the dohyo to register his seventh win.

Komusubi Jokoryu (3-8) was slapped all over the ring and blasted out to a losing record by Bulgarian Aoiyama (6-5) on a day when the other komusubi, Chiyotairyu, withdrew from the tournament due to an injury.

Chiyotairyu pulled out after aggravating a right knee injury in his ninth loss on Tuesday against Toyonoshima. He forfeited Wednesday’s bout against top-ranked maegashira Endo (2-9).

Back in the ring, veteran Mongolian maegashira Kyokutenho was forced to wait another day for a winning record after being bumped out by eighth-ranked Tochiozan. Both men have 7-4 marks.