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Monday, Nov. 26, 2007

Hakuho secures fifth title after Chiyotaikai withdraws

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Without having to lift a finger, Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho won his fifth career title on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

News photo
Yokozuna Hakuho, with his wife Sayoko and daughter Amiu on his left, poses after winning his fifth Emperor's Cup at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. KYODO PHOTO

Then with the Emperor's Cup already in the bag, he lost to ozeki Kotomitsuki in the final bout of the year.

Hakuho, who took the lead on the penultimate day of the 15-day meet, secured his second straight title after ozeki Chiyotaikai pulled out the same day, citing an injury

In final bout, Hakuho was left with a bittersweet victory after Kotomitsuki got inside for a firm underhanded grip and spun the yokozuna around like a top before dumping him to the dirt surface at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

The 22-year-old finished with a somewhat unimpressive 12-3 record. Kotomitsuki ended on 10-5.

"I lost on the first day and I didn't know what would happen after that, but I had a lot of warm support from my family and the fans," Hakuho said. "This was the last meet of the year, so I really wanted to win the title."

He left a big question mark with his defeat on the first day to Kotoshogiku, another loss to countryman Ama on the eighth day, and his final defeat to Kotomitsuki before accepting the trophy.

The same mistakes could cost him with the return of yokozuna Asashoryu at the New Year meet in January. Hakuho's compatriot was suspended for past two meets, but his punishment ended on Sunday.

"I will do my best to compete as a yokozuna starting from the New Year meet," Hakuho said when asked about Asashoryu's return to the raised-ring.

Veteran Kaio, who had been rumored to face retirement prior to the Kyushu meet, finished with a mark of 9-6 with Chiyotaikai's forfeit and has said he plans to continue his career.

The 35-year-old faced demotion for a record 11th time in front of his hometown fans, but tossed aside Kotomitsuki a day earlier to notch a majority of wins.

Mongolian komusubi Ama rolled over Wakanosato (8-7) to notch double digits with a 10-5 record. He also won his second Outstanding Performance Prize and can possibly make a bid for ozeki with a stellar performance in January.

Komusubi Kotoshogiku, who claimed the Technique Prize, dumped Toyohibiki (7-8) to finish on 9-6.

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