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Monday, July 28, 2008

Perfect Hakuho wraps up crown

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Hakuho wrapped up his seventh career championship win in style after overpowering Bulgarian Kotooshu to finish the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament with a spotless record on Sunday.

News photo
Satisfaction guaranteed: Yokozuna Hakuho lifts the Emperor's Cup after posting a perfect 15-0 record at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium on Sunday. Hakuho finished with a flawless record for the second time in his career. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho, who clinched the Emperor's Cup after beating Kaio on Friday, faced a stern test in the day's finale but closed out the championship with a 15-0 mark for only the second time in his career.

Kotooshu gave as good as he got but Hakuho eventually got the upper hand. After working Kotooshu to the edge, he tipped the ozeki over the straw bales with a textbook overarm throw.

"The Nagoya tourney title is the only one I hadn't won so I'm absolutely delighted," said Hakuho, who won all of his bouts for the first time as a yokozuna.

"I trained well in the buildup to the tournament and that has led to this result," said Hakuho.

Hakuho on Friday became the first wrestler to clinch an Emperor's Cup on the 13th day since fellow Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu did it in January 2005. Asashoryu, a 22-time winner in the elite makuuchi division, pulled out of the Nagoya tourney early on because of an elbow injury.

"I was just thinking about keeping the flow going and doing good sumo (for the last two days)," said Hakuho. "(Getting 15 wins) wasn't really on my mind but the people around me were talking about it so I gave it my best shot."

Kotooshu, who saw his hopes of promotion to yokozuna go up in smoke with three early losses, finished the tournament with a mediocre 9-6 mark at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Local favorite Kotomitsuki gave his home fans another reason to be cheerful when he turned and marched out fellow ozeki Kaio (9-6) from behind to post the second highest record of 11-4.

In other bouts, komusubi Toyonoshima (10-5) turned on the style to claim his third ozeki scalp by forcing out Chiyotaikai (9-6), showing he more than deserves the Outstanding Performance Prize, one of three special awards handed out to makuuchi division wrestlers by the Japan Sumo Association on the tournament's final day.

Estonian man-mountain Baruto chased out Mongolian sekiwake Ama to score a 10th win. Ama also finished 10-5 and was awarded the Technique Prize for the fourth time.



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