Sumo / Basho Reports

Hakuho bags perfect mark

Kyodo

With a record-extending 37th career title already in the bag, Hakuho put the icing on the cake on Sunday, defeating fellow Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu to finish with a spotless 15-0 record at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho, who clinched his second straight Emperor’s Cup on Saturday, saved arguably his best performance until last in an epic tussle, countering at the edge of the ring to turn the tables on Kakuryu (11-4) with a utchari backward pivot throw.

Hakuho extended his unbeaten streak to 29 matches, having not lost since the first day of the Spring Basho in Osaka in March.

“Honestly it was quite tough,” Hakuho said. “It’s been about a year and a half since I last won in Tokyo. A perfect record feels pretty good.

“I had an old injury that began bothering me from the third day and I wondered how things would turn out.

“I don’t know why but when I get into the ring, I turn into a different Hakuho. I think there are two Hakuhos. I’m gentler when I’m not in the ring.”

After back-to-back losses wrecked his hopes of an elusive first Emperor’s Cup, Kisenosato outlasted Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji (10-5) to finish with a second straight 13-2 record and put himself in with a shot at promotion to yokozuna at the Nagoya tourney in July.

New Year champion Kotoshogiku (10-5) claimed ozeki bragging rights in overpowering Goeido (9-6).

Ikioi (4-11) has endured a miserable tournament on his debut at sekiwake but was able to take a few crumbs of comfort from an oshidashi win against Bulgarian-born No. 3 maegashira Aoiyama (6-9).

Kotoyuki, also fighting at sumo’s third-highest rank of sekiwake for the first time, finished 7-8 after sending struggling Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji (2-13) out to a 13th consecutive loss.

Terunofuji, who has been struggling with injuries to both knees, will be wrestling with his rank on the line in Nagoya.

Further down the ranks, No. 4 maegashira Tochinoshin (10-5) received his first Technique Prize, one of three prizes awarded to makuuchi division wrestlers by the Japan Sumo Association on the final day of a grand tournament.

But the Georgian-born grappler was unable to close on a winning note, quickly getting taken down after the charge by top-ranked maegashira Takarafuji (7-8).

Fighting at a career high rank of No. 8 maegashira and with double digit wins under his belt for the second tournament in a row, Mitakeumi (11-4) forced out 13th-ranked Daishomaru (9-6) and earned his first Fighting Spirit Prize.

“I am really happy,” said Mitakeumi. “I had heard (I would need to win on the final day to get the prize) but I didn’t have that on my mind and just tried to wrestle my brand of sumo.

“I am at my highest position and winning 11 bouts will give me confidence for the next tournament.”

No. 15 maegashira Endo (11-4) missed out on a Fighting Spirit Prize after being thrown down by 12th-ranked Takekaze, who secured a winning record with an eighth victory.

No Outstanding Performance Prize was awarded for the first time in three tournaments.