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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yokozuna Hakuho improves to 3-0

Kyodo News

At least one of sumo's two dominant forces is still sitting pretty.

News photo
After you: Yokozuna Hakuho pushes top-ranked maegashira Baruto in the back to force him out and get off to a 3-0 start at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho dispatched of winless Estonian Baruto to remain undefeated, while fellow grand champion Asashoryu shot down Georgian Kokkai to stay hot on his main rival's heels with a 2-1 record in the early going at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

Hakuho rattled big man Baruto with a powerful shove out of the crouch before sending the No. 1 maegashira toppling backward with a rear-foot sweep at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

In the day's finale, Asashoryu moved in quickly for the kill, barging winless Kokkai over the edge with minimal effort.

Asashoryu, who avenged a defeat to Hakuho when he beat him on the final day of the spring meet in March, has a chance to win his 23rd Emperor's Cup here to move into fourth on the all-time list for title victories.

Hakuho had ruined Asashoryu's comeback from a two-tournament suspension with a victory on the last day of the New Year basho and is seeking his seventh title win at the Tokyo meet.

It was a day of disappointment for sumo's second rank of ozeki, save for demotion-threatened Kotooshu.

Giant-killer Kisenosato gave Kaio a sumo clinic, getting inside for a firm right-handed grip before barreling the veteran ozeki over the edged to a second straight loss.

Kisenosato, who defeated Asashoryu in a shocker on the opening day, improved to 2-1.

Kotomitsuki, meanwhile, became the second ozeki victim when he was marched over to a first defeat in a frontal forceout by Kyokutenho (1-2).

Kotooshu, who looks his best in recent tournaments, absorbed the beefy blows of Miyabiyama before shoving his opponent into the ringside seats. The Bulgarian lumberjack must post a majority of wins this time to keep his ozeki status.

Up-and-coming Russian wrestler Wakanoho gave Chiyotaikai (2-1) a dose of his own medicine, swatting the ozeki across the face with a series of thrusts to post a 1-2 mark.

Ama fell forward onto his knees immediately after the faceoff when fellow Mongolian Asasekiryu used a sneaky swat-down maneuver, leaving both men at 2-1 while fellow sekiwake Kotoshogiku slipped to a first defeat against Tokitenku (2-1).

Sumo's court jester Takamisakari, who turned 32 a day earlier, bounced back from two straight defeats by wrestling out Tochinonada, who slipped to 2-1.

Tochinoshin, who follows in the footsteps of Kokkai as the second wrestler from the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the makuuchi division, manhandled Kotokasuga (1-2) to stay perfect after three matches.

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