• Kyodo

  • SHARE

Hakuho maintained his pursuit of a record-extending 44th Emperor’s Cup by beating Yutakayama and improving to a perfect 6-0 Friday at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

But the sailing was less smooth for fellow yokozuna Kakuryu, who dropped to 4-2 after losing to No. 2 maegashira Tokushoryu (1-5).

All-time championship record-holder Hakuho easily overpowered No. 3 Yutakayama in the penultimate bout of Day 6 at Edion Arena Osaka.

The 35-year-old yokozuna, who had looked less than his best despite remaining unbeaten here, claimed a quick-fire victory to go 3-0 in his career against Yutakayama (2-4). After delivering a powerful left-hand slap, Hakuho took a double inside grip and drove the maegashira straight out.

Hakuho will start Saturday, the halfway point of the 15-day tournament, in a three-way tie for the lead with rank-and-file grapplers Mitakeumi and Aoiyama.

In the last bout of the day, Kakuryu took a belt grip with both arms, but Tokushoryu used his 188-kg frame to twist his way out of the hold and bounce the yokozuna over the edge.

Tokushoryu — who stunned the sumo world by winning the New Year Basho from the lowest rank of No. 17 maegashira — earned his first career kinboshi prize for beating a yokozuna as a rank-and-file wrestler.

The 33-year-old journeyman, whose January title propelled him upward 15 places in the rankings, said he had been determined to rack up a victory following a run of losses against tough opponents here.

“I’ve lost to several top-ranked wrestlers here, so I was adamant about winning today,” said Tokushoryu, adding that his title-winning run was a distant memory.

“The previous tournament is in the past. This tournament is a separate matter.”

No. 3 Mitakeumi, who aims to return to the three sanyaku ranks below yokozuna, handed sekiwake Asanoyama his first loss of the tournament.

In one of the day’s most entertaining bouts, two-time Emperor’s Cup winner Mitakeumi took a double inside grip from the jump and withstood multiple throw attempts on the way to a force out victory.

After the pair locked up, Asanoyama dragged the maegashira around the ring and looked primed for an arm throw, but Mitakeumi stayed tight and drove the promotion-seeking sekiwake out.

The 27-year-old Mitakeumi — who not so long ago was an ozeki aspirant himself — faces Hakuho on Saturday.

Following consecutive losses, sole ozeki Takakeisho got back on the winning track with an easy thrust out win against No. 4 Enho (2-4).

Takakeisho (3-3) used his superior bulk to keep the diminutive maegashira at arm’s length, denying him the opportunity to go inside before pushing him out.

Sekiwake Shodai (3-3) suffered his second straight loss, dropping to 3-4 in his career against No. 1 Daieisho. Former komusubi Daieisho (3-3) put on an impressive display of thrusting sumo, maintaining the momentum from the outset for a frontal force-out.

Endo improved to 4-2 by winning a battle between fellow komusubi against Hokutofuji (2-4).

The Ishikawa Prefecture native got inside Hokutofuji’s defense from the initial charge and used his stronger position to push his opponent out.

No. 13 Aoiyama (6-0) stayed perfect by slapping down No. 17 Meisei. The big Bulgarian is on track for his first winning record since last July.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)