• Kyodo

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Hakuho, one of three yokozuna competing in the ongoing New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, has withdrawn due to toe injuries, the Japan Sumo Association said Thursday.

The Mongolian injured his left big toe during a loss to rank-and-file maegashira wrestler Yoshikaze on Wednesday, his second defeat of the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. He hurt the big toe on his right foot while training on the tournament’s opening day.

It was the first time in his career that the 32-year-old wrestler suffered a kinboshi, or an upset of a yokozuna by a maegashira, on back-to-back days.

“It’s the same toe I hurt in 2006,” Hakuho said after the bout, referring to the left big toe he underwent surgery on after suffering a fracture.

Miyagino, Hakuho’s stablemaster, said, “I’m sure he wanted to fight, but if he performs poorly, he will humiliate himself as a yokozuna.”

Hakuho was seeking his 41st championship and second straight, but struggled to make form adjustments after being criticized by the Yokozuna Promotion Council last month for being overly rough in the tachiai charge at the start of his bouts.

It is the seventh time in his career Hakuho has pulled out of a tournament.

Hakuho’s scheduled opponent for Thursday, second-ranked maegashira Kotoshogiku, wins by forfeit.

Meanwhile, Japan-born yokozuna Kisenosato, who also lost his fourth-day bout to continue his disappointing 1-3 start, said after morning practice he does not plan to withdraw, a decision that would put his career in jeopardy.

“When I decide to do something I mean it and I’m going all the way to the end. I will continue to focus as I have. (My physical condition) is not bad,” he said.

Kisenosato, who fights out of the Taganoura stable, is making his comeback after having missed all or part of the last four meets, a run that if it continues would see him expected to retire.

Kakuryu is the only yokozuna with a perfect 4-0 record.

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