Sumo / Basho Reports

Hakuho puts finishing touches on 43rd career title

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho finished his championship run at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday with a victory over ozeki Takakeisho at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

In a bout that was preceded by a long staring contest before the start, Hakuho quickly gained the advantage and forced his 23-year-old opponent to the straw’s edge. But with his back to the straw, Takakeisho froze, and the two wrestlers waited for over a minute to see who would make the next move.

Hakuho eventually put an end to the human statue competition, hoisting Takakeisho (9-6) up by the belt and forcing him out. The yokozuna, who had extended his record for career championships to 43 on Saturday, finished with a 14-1 record.

“I’m coming off injury and surgery, so I wasn’t without anxiety here,” Hakuho said during the award ceremony. “So to be standing here at the end is the greatest.

“I think he (Takakeisho) is just the harbinger of strong young wrestlers yet to come who will represent the sumo world well.”

May champion Asanoyama, whose 55 wins led all top-division wrestlers this year, and who was in the title hunt until Hakuho’s victory in Saturday’s final bout, won the first Technique Prize of his career but was unable to finish the year with a win.

No. 10 maegashira Shodai bounced back from his loss on Saturday to force out Asanoyama and claim his third career Fighting Spirit Prize. The pair finished with identical 11-4 records.

Enho, the lightest makuuchi division wrestler at 98 kg, applied the brakes to Daieisho’s charge and flung him aside to earn his eighth win. No. 1 Daieisho had clinched his winning record on Saturday.

Daieisho, the only wrestler to defeat Enho’s stablemate Hakuho, received an Outstanding Performance Prize for his efforts.

Enho’s victory made it a successful tournament for the Miyagino stable, with No. 11 Ishiura earning nine wins and Hakuho winning the championship.

“The three of us are going to share some delicious sake for sure,” Hakuho said, while lamenting his lone loss to Daieisho.

“I guess he (Enho) one-upped me in that respect.”

In the three clashes between wrestlers with 7-7 records, komusubi Endo was catapulted from the ring by No. 4 Kotoyuki. No. 4 Tamawashi overpowered No. 8 Sadanoumi from the jump and shoved him straight out. No. 2 Myogiryu, too, won the initial clash, knocked No. 6 Onosho sideways and drove him out.

Hometown hero Kotoshogiku brought the crowd to its feet with a stirring win over much larger No. 5 Aoiyama. Despite a 27-kg disadvantage, No. 9 Kotoshogiku, a former ozeki, held his ground and threw down the Bulgarian bruiser, leaving both men with 6-9 records.

No 3. maegashira Tomokaze, who withdrew on Day 3, is currently undergoing rehab after having surgery on his right knee, stablemaster Oguruma revealed.

Tomokaze, who will turn 25 on Dec. 2 and already has two kinboshi wins over yokozuna, had never posted a losing record until going 7-8 in September.

“It’s probably going to take about half a year,” Oguruma said. “There’s no point getting worked (up) about something that can’t be helped.”