Sumo

Exultant Hakuho brushes aside controversy over remarks

Kyodo

A night after extending his own record for career championships with his 34th, yokozuna Hakuho on Monday brushed aside talk concerning his apparent icy relationship with the judging committee that came in the wake of his critical remarks in January.

Hakuho, 30, became only the second man to win six straight titles twice with his 14-1 victory at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament. Legendary yokozuna Taiho wrapped up his second at the 1967 New Year basho.

“I was only thinking about focusing on my sumo. It was a performance that anyone who watched would comprehend. I am glad I gave it a strong effort,” said Hakuho, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to his remarks in January.

Despite his achievements, the focus has become the apparent bad blood festering between the Mongolian-born yokozuna and the judging committee — not to mention the media — to whom he has yet to offer an official apology.

Hakuho sparked the controversy when he berated judges for having him redo a match against ozeki Kisenosato on the day he clinched his 33rd title for the all-time record at the New Year basho, saying it was “sumo even a child would comprehend.”

Except for the first and last days of the Spring basho, Hakuho turned his back to reporters in the dressing room and would not answer any questions. When asked the reason for the silent treatment, he said, “It is over with. I had many things on my mind, but I wasn’t able to convey them.”

Hakuho suffered his only defeat against countryman Terunofuji, who posted a 13-2 mark in his debut at the third-highest rank of sekiwake. The 23-year-old could be next in line for a run at ozeki.

“From the standpoint of a yokozuna, I want to stand in his way. He will give me motivation to fight,” Hakuho said.