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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hakuho keeps perfect record in Nagoya meet

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Front-running yokozuna Hakuho sent Tochinonada packing with another classy performance to make it seven wins out of seven at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.

News photo
Down again: Second-ranked maegashira Asasekiryu sends ozeki Kotooshu sprawling to the ground on the seventh day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho was all business in the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, quickly grabbing third-ranked maegashira Tochinonada's (3-4) belt and working him over the straw ridge to maintain his unbeaten record.

Hakuho, who is gunning for his seventh career title and first championship victory since beating Asashoryu on the last day of the New Year meet in January, stayed one win clear of ozeki Kotomitsuki and sekiwake Ama.

Hakuho's Emperor's Cup hopes were given a boost when countryman and yokozuna rival Asashoryu pulled out of the 15-day meet Friday, citing an injury to his left elbow.

Local favorite Kotomitsuki stayed hot on the heels of Hakuho with a comfortable victory over struggling Hokutoriki, escaping a neck clamp to turn the winless maegashira around and march him out from behind.

Wiry Mongolian sekiwake Ama also remained firmly in contention for the title after disposing of aging ozeki Kaio (4-3) with maximum efficiency.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, who looked to have hit his stride after two defeats in the first three days of the tournament wrecked his hopes of being promoted to sumo's top rank of yokozuna, slumped to a third defeat, this time at the hands of Asasekiryu (3-4).

Asasekiryu spotted an opening at the charge and sent Kotooshu sprawling to the sandy surface with a well-timed pulling overarm throw.

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