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Monday, Sept. 29, 2008

Hakuho caps basho with thrilling victory

Kyodo News

Yokozuna Hakuho wrapped up another triumphant campaign with a hard-fought 14th victory against ozeki Kotomitsuki on the final day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

News photo
Sealed with a kiss: Yokozuna Hakuho receives a kiss from daughter Amiu after winning the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

The Mongolian, who clinched his eighth title with a day to spare after beating Kotooshu on Saturday, put the icing on the cake as he outlasted Kotomitsuki (11-4) and shoved him out in a tight final contest at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho's latest success follows an imperious performance at the last tournament in July in Nagoya, where he romped to the title with a flawless 15-0 mark.

He was the only yokozuna left standing again after rival Asashoryu's recent struggles continued when he pulled out of his second straight meet with an injured elbow earlier in the week.

Sekiwake livewire Ama rebounded from Saturday's defeat to Goeido by bundling out No. 6 maegashira Toyohibiki (8-7) to close two wins off the pace at 12-3.

Ama's solid showing here earned him the Outstanding Performance Prize for the fourth time and will have done his ozeki aspirations no harm at all.

"I've tried to do my best sumo and not make too many mistakes," said Ama. "I have only got a small body so I have to build it up. I have got to get tougher in the charge and wrestle tougher sumo (at the next tournament)."

The 24-year-old Ama collected one of the three prizes the Japan Sumo Association hands wrestlers in the makuuchi division on the final day of the meet for the third tournament in a row.

Goeido won the Fighting Spirit Prize, though the fifth-ranked maegashira was unable to finish on a high after was forced out by 16th-ranked Kakizoe. Both men finished 10-5.

In other bouts of note, Bulgarian Kotooshu (8-7) rolled over Chiyotaikai (9-6) in an all ozeki match-up while fourth-ranked Aminishiki also scored a winning record on the last day with an upset win over ozeki Kaio (9-6).

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