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Monday, Nov. 10, 2008

Hakuho tumbles on Kyushu basho's opening day

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Hakuho hit a bump in the road in the start of his campaign for a third consecutive title Sunday, losing at the hands of trickster Aminishiki on the first day of action at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Yokozuna Hakuho
Hard landing: Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho grimaces after being tossed on to the dohyo by Aminishiki on the first day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament. KYODO PHOTO

In day's final bout, Hakuho got a slow jump at the charge and permitted his opponent to wrap both hands around his waist before the komusubi deployed a savvy throwing technique for the win at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Hakuho, who won his eighth career Emperor's Cup at the autumn meet in September, attempted a forceful outer leg trip while the pair grappled for leverage but was instead sent toppling head first into the sandy-surface.

Fellow grand champion Asashoryu, meanwhile, will miss the 15-day meet due to an injured left elbow and rumors abound that his career will be on the line should he return at the New Year meet in January.

Asashoryu pulled out midway from the last two meets but it is the first time he is sitting out an entire tournament. His career has taken a downward turn since he beat fellow Mongolian Hakuho on the final day of the spring meet in March.

It was a day of mixed blessings for sumo's ozeki rank.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu got his left hand on Wakanosato's mawashi but could not seal the deal and was sent bumbling over the ridge after attempting an awkward throwing technique.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai, meanwhile, knocked the daylights out of Futeno, splitting his opponent's forehead open with a head-butt at the faceoff before ejecting the top-ranked maegashira over with his trademark thrusting attack.

Veteran ozeki Kaio, who is nursing an injured leg, retreated in weak display after he was shoved back by Toyonoshima to fall to a first-day loss in front of his hometown fans.

But ozeki Kotomitsuki made short work of Goeido, steamrolling the newly promoted komusubi in a matter of seconds to get in the winner's circle on the first day.

Mongolian sekiwake Ama, who is bidding here for promotion to sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki, finished off Kotoshogiku with an arm technique with his back on the edge after the wrestlers had to restart the match due to four false starts.

Under sumo's guidelines, a wrestler needs 33 wins in three straight tournaments to gain promotion to ozeki. Ama had 12 at the autumn basho in September and 10 at the Nagoya meet in July.

In another match, Hokutoriki sent Baruto down like a sack of bricks after the newly promoted Estonian sekiwake made an ill-advised charge out of the crouch.



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