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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hakuho celebrates birthday with win

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho celebrated his 23rd birthday with a comfortable win over Kakuryu to retain his share of the lead at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

Hakuho improved his record to 3-0, while yokozuna rival Asashoryu won ugly against Aminishiki to also stay among the early front-runners in the 15-day meet at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium.

Asashoryu went for substance over style in the day's penultimate bout, shaking Aminishiki (1-2) about like a rag doll before sending the second-ranked maegashira packing with frontal crush-out technique.

Aminishiki who appeared to hurt his leg and limped back onto the dohyo dropped to 1-2.

In sharp contrast, Hakuho put on another classy display to wrap up the day's action as he nullified the threat of his Mongolian opponent (1-2) and dispatched him with a textbook twisting backward knee trip.

Hakuho is aiming to become only the sixth wrestler since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958 to win four consecutive titles.

It was a day of contrasting fortunes for ozeki wrestlers as Bulgarian Kotooshu and veteran Kaio picked up second wins, but Kotomitsuki and Chiyotaikai tasted defeat.

Winless Kotomitsuki's miserable start continued after he was sent tumbling by an overarm throw from Mongolian Asasekiryu, who improved to 2-1.

"I was a bit slow off the mark today but I am in good shape," Asasekiryu said after claiming his second ozeki victim.

"I have to just keep my focus on each bout as it comes."

Kotooshu, who lost his opener to Asasekiryu on Sunday, dug in deep to move into the winning column after prevailing in a slap fest with winless Miyabiyama, but relegation-threatened Chiyotaikai suffered his first "kuroboshi" against komusubi Kisenosato.

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