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Friday, July 23, 2010

Hakuho's streak at 44 and counting


By DAVE HUESTON
Kyodo News

NAGOYA — Mongolian grand champion Hakuho moved within one win of matching former yokozuna great Taiho's 45-bout winning streak on Thursday, overpowering rank-and-filer Kitataiki on the 12th day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
All business: Hakuho leaves the dohyo following his victory over Kitataiki at the Nagoya Basho on Thursday. KYODO PHOTO

The lone yokozuna, who is the only undefeated wrestler at 12-0, will face his biggest test over the final three days of the 15-day meet, starting with Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu on Friday, as he aims to become the first wrestler since the incorporation of the six-tourney system in 1958 to win three consecutive meets without a defeat.

A win over Kotooshu for Hakuho would place him in a share of third on the all-time list with Taiho, and also earn him the Nagoya title if Japanese-born maegashira Homasho suffers his third loss.

Taiho's winning streak lasted from the second day of the 1968 autumn meet until the first day of the 1969 spring meet.

In the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Hakuho gave Kitataiki a few well-placed shoves before grabbing hold with his right hand to slam the No. 4 maegashira to the sandy surface with a twisting backward knee trip. Kitataiki fell to 5-7.

Meanwhile, Homasho (10-2), who won his first 10 bouts facing the lower echelon, was no contest for Kotooshu (9-3), who swiftly got inside for a firm belt grip before placing the No. 13 maegashira out of the ring in a matter of seconds.

Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji shoved aside sekiwake Kisenosato (6-6) with conviction, jettisoning the sekiwake into the ringside seats with a hard shove to pick up his eighth win.

But Estonian big-man Baruto (8-4) could not make it a hat trick for the ozeki rank, slipping to his knees immediately after the faceoff against Kotoshogiku (4-8). Ozeki Kaio has pulled out of the basho with an injured left shoulder.

Mongolian Kakuryu took another step back in the title race after falling to a third defeat against Tochiozan (7-5), who unleashed a salvo of thrusts to send the No. 6 maegashira packing over the edge.

Mongolian Hakuba (3-9) reached into his energy reserves to heave out countryman Kyokutenho (6-6), but fellow komusubi Tochinoshin of Georgia (3-9) lost in a close match, requiring a judges' conference, against Aminishiki (6-6), who left the dohyo favoring his left leg.

Crowd pleaser Takamisakari posted an eighth win to the delight of the fans, forcing out Tosayutaka, who slipped to 6-6.

Georgian Kokkai (6-6) let Kakizoe (2-10) fall down of his own inertia after his opponent came bursting out of the crouch.

Russian Aran, a No. 2 maegashira, posted a winning record with a quick frontal takeout of former sekiwake Wakanosato, who fell to 7-5.

Poised for history

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Sokokurai is now likely to become the first Chinese in sumo history to join the elite makuuchi division when he fights at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in September.

The 26-year-old from China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, a third-ranked maegashira, secured a majority of wins at 8-4 on Thursday at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Sokokurai made his debut in the second-tier juryo division this past January and has recorded nine, eight and eight wins over the last three tournaments, respectively.

"I thought I would fall into a slump at this ongoing meet, but I haven't. I'm happy that I've never had a losing record at the juryo level," Sokokurai said.



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