• Kyodo


Yokozuna Hakuho delivered an imperious performance to beat Takarafuji and maintain his share of the early lead on Wednesday, the fourth day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Chasing a 36th career title and first in three meets, Hakuho was all business in the day’s penultimate bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The Mongolian grabbed second-ranked maegashira Takarafuji (0-4) by the throat at the charge and then set himself up to get a firm left-handed grip on his belt and send him over the straw bales.

Hakuho shares the lead at 4-0 with ozeki Kotoshogiku and rank-and-filers Takayasu and Okinoumi.

Hakuho’s fellow Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji and Kakuryu also won convincingly.

After taking an early smack to the face, Kakuryu took control and marched top-ranked maegashira Shohozan (1-3) out for a routine third win before Kyushu champion Harumafuji slapped up Ichinojo and blasted him out in the day’s last bout to improve to 3-1.

Kisenosato was the only casualty in the upper ranks as all three of the other ozeki posted victories.

Kotoshogiku maintained his unbeaten start against Aminishiki, the ozeki managing to shove the veteran No. 1 maegashira over the edge of the ring before crashing to the sandy surface. Aminishiki dropped to 2-2.

Kotoshogiku managed to scrape together eight wins before he pulled out on the penultimate day of the Kyushu meet in November with a shin injury.

Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji, with both knees heavily strapped up, huffed and puffed his way past winless Bulgarian No. 2 maegashira Aoiyama to improve his mark to 3-1.

But longtime ozeki Kisenosato’s (2-2) hopes of winning an elusive first title took another early blow when he was muscled to the dirt by Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin (2-2).

“I didn’t perform well but I am happy to win,” said Tochinoshin after his second ozeki scalp in as many days.

Goeido, who just about managed to retain his ozeki status in going 8-7 in November, saw off the threat of Ikioi (1-3), yanking the komusubi to the dirt by the neck for a third win.

Yoshikaze leveled his mark at 2-2 on his debut at sekiwake, heaving out fellow sekiwake (1-3) Tochiozan after a heated exchange of slaps and thrusts.

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