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Monday, May 24, 2010

News photo
Golden boy: Hakuho takes down Harumafuji to complete his second straight flawless tournament on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

Flawless Hakuho cleans up again

Kyodo News

Two days after clinching his 14th career Emperor's Cup, yokozuna Hakuho concluded his campaign with a perfect 15-0 record for the second consecutive meet on the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Hakuho defeated ozeki Harumafuji, extending his winning streak to 32 bouts, and along with his bright gold mawashi that was the trademark of former yokozuna Wajima began a new golden era of dominance as the lone grand champion.

"Like I thought, this is really a fantastic feeling," said Hakuho of his sixth undefeated title victory. "But I have to apologize to the fans for clinching the title so quickly. It's a little unfortunate that the other wrestlers couldn't contend but at the same time I had so much to focus on myself."

In the final bout, Hakuho and Harumafuji traded slaps in a heated exchange until the yokozuna settled down to lift the ozeki over the straw bales in textbook fashion. Harumafuji finished at 9-6.

The yokozuna has a personal best winning streak of 33 bouts and has left the competition far in his wake after the retirement of former yokozuna Asashoryu in February. He is tied with Wajima for career titles in sixth place on the all-time list.

"Wajima has given me so much encouragement. I tied him and he has let me wear the gold belt, so I want to repay my gratitude to him as much as possible. I wanted to win the championship and wear this belt," Hakuho said.

Although it was definitely a celebration for Hakuho, it was veteran ozeki Kaio who received the loudest cheers from the crowd at Ryogoku Kokugikan for winning his 1,000th career bout in a matchup against Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (9-6).

The 37-year-old Kaio got a firm belt grip to escort his rival out and pick up his ninth win of the Tokyo meet. He became only the second wrestler to reach 1,000 career wins. Former yokozuna Chiyonofuji is first on the all-time list with 1,045 career wins.

Ozeki Kotomitsuki showed his mettle against newly promoted Estonian ozeki Baruto, rolling the man-mountain with an underarm throw after a brief standstill to earn a ninth win.

Baruto, promoted to sumo's second-highest rank after the spring meet, finished on 10-5 in his ozeki debut.

Russian rank-and-filer Aran took the Fighting Sprit Prize for the first time after finishing with a stellar mark of 12-3, muscling out Hokutoriki (7-8) in his final bout. Surprisingly, Aran finished alone in second place.

Georgian Tochinoshin heaved out Kitataiki (7-8) by the belt despite getting a slow jump at the faceoff, to finish with a majority of wins.

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