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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hakuho unstoppable; notches 10th victory

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho ground out sekiwake Kotoshogiku to remain undefeated as the sole leader on the 10th day of action at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

News photo
Keep moving: Ozeki Kotomitsuki (background) looks on after sending Mongolian sekiwake Ama out of the ring on the 10th day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium on Tuesday. KYODO PHOTO

In the day's final, Kotoshogiku got a boost of false confidence when he briefly moved the yokozuna back toward the edge in the initial stages at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

But Hakuho was obviously playing possum and never lost his cool as he simply dug his feet into the dirt surface before muscling the sekiwake over to improve to 10-0. Kotoshogiku fell to 4-6.

Hakuho has been in red-hot form here and is the favorite to win the Emperor's Cup after rival Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu pulled out of the 15-day meet last Friday with an elbow injury.

His closest rival is ozeki Kotomitsuki, who sits two off the pace at 8-2.

It would be Hakuho's seventh career title and first championship victory since beating Asashoryu on the final day of the New Year meet in January.

In a battle of wrestlers with two defeats, Kotomitsuki prevailed over Mongolian sekiwake Ama to keep himself smack-dab in the title race with five days remaining.

Ama tried an ill-advised throat grab on Kotomitsuki, but the ozeki never budged, deflecting the arm before tossing his opponent out from behind in convincing fashion.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu picked up his third straight win, plowing out Wakanosato (4-6), to improve to a 7-3 mark after his disappointment early on ruined his shot at a chance for promotion to sumo's ultimate rank.

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