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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hakuho stands alone as next basho dawns


By DAVE HUESTON
Kyodo News

As he prepares for his second basho as lone yokozuna, Hakuho appears quite content with his newfound status as king of the raised ring.

After finishing with a perfect 15-0 mark in March, the Mongolian is not about to be intimidated by the likes of newly promoted Estonian ozeki Baruto as he aims for his 14th career Emperor's Cup at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which will get under way on Sunday.

The 25-year-old has truly come into his own as an impenetrable force with his unrivaled grappling techniques and thrusting attacks.

He will be looking to equal former yokozuna Wajima's record haul at the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Hakuho is even more amped up since he has not claimed a title at a Tokyo meet since winning the 2008 Autumn Basho.

Baruto would love to throw a monkey wrench into the yokozuna's plans in his first tournament at sumo's second-highest rank after his impressive 14-1 showing in the spring.

He is aiming to become only the second European wrestler, after Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, to win a title and although his sumo has matured dramatically, Baruto is still leagues apart from possessing the talent to stop Hakuho on a consistent basis.

Baruto has also been busy attending congratulatory events since his promotion on March 31 and has spent little time training in the buildup to the summer meet.

Meanwhile, Kotooshu, who finished at 10-5 last time out, faces two pesky wrestlers right off the bat: rank-and-filer Toyonoshima and komusubi Aminishiki.

The perennial disappointer must first get past these two to stand any chance in the title race.



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