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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hakuho stays perfect at summer basho

Newly promoted ozeki Hakuho survived a scare to earn his fourth win and maintained a share of the lead with three other unbeaten wrestlers at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

News photo
Ozeki Hakuho unleashes an arm throw on No. 1 maegashira Kisenosato to stay undefeated in the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho withstood an early charge from Kisenosato and held a tight grip on the belt at the edge of the ring before unleashing a powerful left-arm throw to topple the 19-year-old top-ranked maegashira at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho is tied for the lead with ozeki Chiyotaikai, sekiwake Miyabiyama and Russian rank-and-filer Hakurozan, who all won their bouts Wednesday in a meet missing yokozuna and pre-tournament favorite Asashoryu, who has pulled out with a right elbow injury.

A tournament victory will make Hakuho the first ozeki debutant to accomplish the feat since Tochiazuma did it in January 2002.

Chiyotaikai remained unbeaten with a win over winless Mongolian komusubi Ama, who saw his brave attempt to slap his way forward fail and backpedaled out of the ring after exchanges of fierce slaps.

With the race for the Emperor's Cup left wide open in the absence of Asashoryu, Chiyotaikai has emerged a strong title contender in his 44th tournament at ozeki, the second longest on the all-time list.

The 30-year-old Kokonoe stable wrestler has won three tournaments but without a title since March 2003.

Tochiazuma, whose hopes of earning yokozuna promotion after the summer meet all but ended with back-to-back losses the previous two days, bounced back by slapping down No. 2 maegashira Wakanosato for his second win. Wakanosato is also at 2-2.

Bulgarian Kotooshu, wrestling with his right knee and ankle heavily taped, evened his record to 2-2 after shoving out komusubi Kyokutenho (0-4).

Veteran Kaio, the other of five ozeki, yanked down No. 1 maegashira Kakizoe for a win that left him at 2-2.

Sekiwake returnee and former ozeki Miyabiyama had little trouble in keeping his perfect record, sending winless fourth-ranked maegashira Takekaze tumbling down from the raised ring.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki crashed down to the surface for his second loss, falling victim to a "henka" move at the face-off by Mongolian No. 2 maegashira Asasekiryu, who picked up his third win.

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