NAGOYA - Hakuho underlined his status as the most successful wrestler in sumo history on Friday, as the Mongolian yokozuna claimed a record 1,048th win at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Grand Tournament.
Hakuho, who tied former ozeki Kaio’s mark of 1,047 career match wins on Thursday, outlasted new ozeki Takayasu in a thrilling bout to reach the latest milestone of his glittering career.
“I think I had enough strength today,” said Hakuho. “I am extremely happy to get this record, especially considering all the support I had in the last tournament and here in Nagoya.”
Hakuho (12-1) did not have it all his own way in the day’s finale as Takayasu (8-5) fought bravely in the face of a barrage of neck thrusts. But the yokozuna had too much gumption and toppled Takayasu with an oshitaoshi (front push-down) technique for the historic win.
“Because it was a battle of power, it was good sumo,” Hakuho said. “My joy is perhaps double what it was yesterday.”
While Japan Sumo Association chairman Hakkaku sang the yokozuna’s praises, he offered Takayasu, who had his chance to take control of the fight, some constructive criticism.
“As Takayasu aspires to bigger things, he’s going to have to learn how to compete for all he has in these big bouts,” the chairman said. “He barely moved and lacked concentration.”
The victory kept the 32-year-old Hakuho in the lead with two days of action remaining at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium and firmly on course for a record-extending 39th career championship.
Hakuho, who is one win clear of No. 8 maegashira Aoiyama, takes on Goeido on Saturday holding a 34-6 win-loss record over the ozeki.
He can capture the title if he beats Goeido and Aoiyama loses to Takekaze.
Aoiyama got a lucky break as ringside judges awarded him a slap-down win over fourth-ranked maegashira Kagayaki (4-9), even though the Bulgarian appeared to step over the ridge before his opponent hit the dirt.
In other bouts, Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji overpowered Goeido (7-6) and is tied at 10-3 with fifth-ranked Tochiozan, who saw off 13th-ranked Takarafuji (8-5).