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Monday, Nov. 30, 2009

Hakuho stays undefeated

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) With a 12th championship title already in the bag, Hakuho exacted swift revenge over Asashoryu on Sunday to wrap up the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament with a perfect 15-0 record.

News photo
Last man standing: Hakuho downs Asashoryu to finish with a perfect record at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

Seeking to snap a three-bout losing streak, Asashoryu gave as good as he got in an epic battle at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, but Hakuho stood his ground and secured yokozuna bragging rights with a textbook overarm throw.

Hakuho, who clinched the title with victory over Kotomitsuki on Saturday, has won a single-year record 86 victories against four losses in 2009.

"I was so disappointed after the last tournament," said Hakuho, who was beaten by Asashoryu in a championship playoff at the autumn meet in September.

"I wanted to win in Kyushu and tie yokozuna great Futabayama's number of Emperor's Cup wins. Now I have won twice as many titles as my father won in Mongolian sumo."

Asashoryu closed with a disappointing 11-4 mark.

Elsewhere, Tochinoshin got hauled down by fourth-ranked Hokutoriki (8-7) but the Georgian is likely to make a significant move up the rankings for the New Year basho after finishing with a 12-3 mark.

The eighth-ranked grappler's excellent showing earned him his first Fighting Spirit Prize, one of three special prizes the Japan Sumo Association awards to makuuchi division wrestlers on the final day of a tournament.

Former ozeki Miyabiyama (12-3), who overpowered 12th-ranked Toyohibiki (5-10) was also awarded the Fighting Spirit Prize.

Estonian sekiwake Baruto (9-6) deployed his favored slam dunk technique to make it seven wins in seven meetings with fifth-ranked Toyonoshima (11-4), who won the Technique Prize. No Outstanding Performance Prize was awarded.

The biggest cheer of the day, meanwhile, was reserved for Fukuoka's favorite son Kaio, who snapped a four-bout losing streak and secured a winning record by yanking down fellow ozeki Kotomitsuki (8-7).

In another all-ozeki battle, Harumafuji grabbed Bulgarian Kotooshu (10-5) by the throat and tossed him to the dirt to close on 9-6.

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