FUKUOKA – Hakuho proved once again to be sumo’s man of steel as he overpowered fellow yokozuna Kakuryu en route to matching the all-time record of 32 career championships on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.
Hakuho, who won his fourth consecutive title, conquered Kakuryu in dominant fashion to stave off a playoff against his rival and capture the coveted Emperor’s Cup hardware with a 14-1 record in the final tournament of 2014.
“I have no words,” said Hakuho when asked his thoughts on achieving Taiho’s epoch mark. “I want to take this occasion to speak to my parents and friends from Mongolia in my language,” Hakuho said before expressing his appreciation in his mother tongue.
“Being able to match the record of this great yokozuna was my promise and my way of expressing my appreciation,” he said when asked to translate what he had said.
In the finale in front of another full house at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Kakuryu, who trailed Hakuho 4-33 in career bouts heading into their match and had lost his last three matches against his rival, didn’t have a prayer.
Hakuho pulled Kakuryu (12-3) forward at the tachiai at a lightening pace and got his right hand on the front of the mawashi while placing his left on the back of the belt before bulldozing his opponent over the straw bales before he knew what had hit him.
“Fifteen years ago, a 62-kg boy came to Japan and no one ever imagined that he would make it this far. It is because the spirit of this country and the sumo gods blessed me that I have been able to achieve this result,” he said.
Sumo’s premier yokozuna debuted in the elite makuuchi class in May 2004 and achieved the sport’s highest rank in July 2007. As arguably the greatest yokozuna to date, Hakuho has highlighted his career with a 63-bout winning streak in 2010 — the second longest in sumo history.
Yokozuna Harumafuji, who had been in danger of not even competing at the 15-day meet due to injury, took his frustrations out on Kotoshogiku with a swashbuckling takedown of the ozeki, quickly scooping up his opponent and sending him sprawling over the edge by uwatedashinage for his 11th win.
Kotoshogiku, who finished with a losing 6-9 record, will face relegation from the ozeki ranks in January.
In an all-ozeki encounter, Kisenosato swatted away Goeido like flea with a tsukiotoshi to pick up his 11th win.
Like Kotoshogiku, Goeido will have to win eight bouts at the New Year basho in January to retain his ozeki status as he finished with a dismal 5-10 mark in only his second tournament at sumo’s second-highest rank.
Takayasu, who beat Hakuho and Harumafuji as well as ozeki Goeido at this tournament, won his second Outstanding Performance Prize.