FUKUOKA - Yokozuna Hakuho maintained his lead in the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament after surviving a close bout against Takarafuji on Friday.
Hakuho (12-1), the lone yokozuna competing at the 15-day meet, twice came close to tasting defeat. After the initial charge, Hakuho tried to shove his opponent out of the ring, but Takarafuji dodged and the yokozuna was barely able to put on the brakes before stepping out at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
The yokozuna spun around in the nick of time to face his opponent, but the No. 5 maegashira was able to get a hand on the back of Hakuho’s belt and thrust him across the ring. But the Mongolian somehow kept his balance and Takarafuji failed to pursue quickly enough to shove him out.
Sensing the urgency, Takarafuji sacrificed balance for speed, but as he rushed forward Hakuho easily slapped him down to his sixth loss. The yokozuna walked away with a wry smile, acknowledging his close shave.
No. 12 maegashira Okinoumi and his Hakkaku stablemate Hokutofuji maintained their winning ways to stay one win back of the yokozuna with 11-2 records.
Tochinoshin (7-6) was in command, with both hands on Okinoumi’s belt and steering him toward the edge. But the Georgian failed to finish as well as he started, and Okinoumi calmly staved off defeat with a slick underarm throw at ring’s edge.
Meanwhile, Hokutofuji pushed Yoshikaze (6-7) out of the ring in their sixth career encounter, earning his fifth straight win.