Sumo

Hakuho in prime position to claim 42nd title in Fukuoka

Kyodo

Mongolian Hakuho will go into next month’s Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament at the summit of the sport’s mountain in the top east yokozuna slot, according to the latest ranking released by the Japan Sumo Association on Monday.

The 33-year-old is coming off a perfect 15-0 record in September’s Autumn tourney, and now has his sights set on a record-extending 42nd career title. Although he has only one championship to his name this year, Hakuho is an eight-time winner in Fukuoka and the defending champion.

If Hakuho manages another title with a 15-0 record at the tourney starting on Nov. 11, it will be the first time he has gone 15-0 in two straight tournaments in over five years.

However, there are concerns over his fitness after he underwent endoscopic surgery on his right knee earlier this month. The Miyagino stable wrestler has only completed two of the five championships held so far this year due to injury.

His two yokozuna rivals, Kisenosato and compatriot Kakuryu, are both coming off 10-5 records in September. Kakuryu occupies the west slot, while Kisenosato is in the second east slot.

All three ozeki had winning records in the last tourney, with Tochinoshin preserving his status with a 9-6 mark. Goeido is in the top east spot, with Takayasu leading in the west and Georgian Tochinoshin in the second west spot.

Mitakeumi and Mongolian mountain Ichinojo continue their pairing at sekiwake for the third straight tournament. Ichinojo is in his fourth straight grand tournament at sumo’s third-highest ranking, while Mitakeumi is in his 11th tournament in the sanyaku ranks — the three ranks below yokozuna — tying him for seventh among wrestlers since the beginning of the Showa period in 1926.

Takakeisho and big Brazilian Kaisei are at komusubi, Takakeisho for the second straight tourney, while Kaisei is back for the first time since September 2016.

Although no new wrestlers are making their debuts in the elite makuuchi division, three wrestlers are back after stints wrestling in the second tier.

Daiamami, who went 11-4 but lost the juryo championship in a playoff, returns as No. 15 maegashira. Meisei, who went 9-6 as a No. 2 juryo, returns as the other No. 15.

Mongolian Arawashi will be the No. 16 maegashira after an 8-7 record as a No. 1 juryo in September.