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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hakuho, Kotooshu share lead after six days of competition

Kyodo News

Hakuho upended Russian youngster Wakanoho on Friday to preserve his unbeaten streak and stay one win clear of fellow Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu after six days of action at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Strong shove: Yokozuna Asashoryu (left) pushes maegashira No. 2 Kyokutenho out of the ring on the sixth day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Friday. The Mongolian is 5-1. KYODO PHOTO

Wakanoho (2-4) never had a hope in the day's featured matchup as Hakuho quickly got a left-handed grip on his belt and twisted the No. 2 maegashira out in one swift move in a classy win at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho shares the lead with Bulgarian Kotooshu.

Asashoryu, meanwhile, sits in a group of five wrestlers with 5-1 records nearing the end of the first week of the 15-day meet.

Asashoryu did his best "Terminator" impression in the day's penultimate bout, shrugging off Kyokutenho (1-5) and dispatching him into the front row of seats with a vicious shove to keep the pressure on the co-leaders.

Asashoryu, who beat Hakuho on the final day of the spring meet in March, is gunning for his 23rd Emperor's Cup. Hakuho is in the hunt for his seventh career title and first in two basho.

Kotooshu displayed brute strength at the ring's edge in an all-European affair, huffing and puffing before blowing down winless Estonian skyscraper Baruto for a well-earned victory.

His rank on the line after dropping out of the spring meet in March with an arm injury, Kotooshu needs just two more wins here to retain his ozeki rank.

In other bouts of note, Chiyotaikai's (3-3) thrusting style proved ineffective as wiry Mongolian Ama (4-2) read the ozeki like a book and bundled him out of the dohyo, but there were wins for Kaio and Kotomitsuki.

"I'm glad I went on the offensive," said Ama.

"I thought I would go for it from the faceoff and was able to keep the momentum going." Kotomitsuki (4-2) snatched a victory when he weathered an onslaught from Miyabiyama and turned the tables on the bumbling former ozeki to belly him out to a fifth defeat, while Kaio moved to 3-3 after pulling down Kotoshogiku (3-3).

In an all komusubi matchup, surly Kisenosato countered an attempted trip and the giant-killer flattened Asasekiryu (3-3) to stay in touch with the leaders at 5-1.

Takamisakari, who is referred to as sumo's clown, fired himself and the crowd up with his goofy pre-bout antics and then leveled his score at 3-3 after squashing Toyonoshima from behind to end the fifth-ranked maegashira's perfect start.

In an earlier bout, 16th-ranked Hakuba, the latest Mongolian to join the elite makuuchi division, was all smiles after posting his first win of the tournament against Kaizoe (3-3).

Hakuba went 8-7 and Georgian grappler Tochinoshin had a 9-6 record in the second-tier juryo division at the spring meet in March to both win promotion and bring the number of foreign-born wrestlers in the top flight to 16, the most in sumo history.

Tochinoshin dropped to 3-3 here after he was thrust down by Toyohibiki (5-1).

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