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Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010
Hakuho tops east rankings for Autumn basho
The Japan Sumo Association announced the new rankings for the upcoming Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday in the wake of a lingering gambling scandal linked to organized crime in the national sport.
Lone yokozuna Hakuho, who is on an amazing 47-bout winning run, takes up his position on the prestigious east side as he aims to claim his fourth consecutive title without suffering a defeat at the Sept. 12-26 meet being held at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The Mongolian yokozuna is third on the all-time list for most consecutive victories.
After 10 Japanese wrestlers in the top two juryo and makuuchi divisions were hit with suspensions during the Nagoya meet in July, the rankings took on a new twist as all those involved in the illicit betting activities were demoted.
Six wrestlers — former ozeki Miyabiyama, Goeido, Toyohibiki, Toyonoshima, Wakakoyu and Okinoumi — were demoted from the elite makuuchi division to juryo.
The other four, who were in juryo, have been sent down to the third-tier makushita class.
Miyabiyama is only the second wrestler with ozeki experience to drop into juryo other than former wrestler Daiju, who was demoted at the 1977 summer meet.
Ozeki Kaio, who had to pull out midway through the Nagoya meet due to an injured left shoulder, is on the west side and is on the brink of demotion for the 13th time in his career.
Since former ozeki Kotomitsuki was fired for betting on professional baseball games, Kaio is the only Japanese wrestler left at sumo's second-highest rank.
Aran makes his debut as the first Russian sekiwake — sumo's third highest rank — on the east while 23-year-old Japanese hopeful Tochiozan fills in the west spot.
Perennial disappointment Kisenosato, who finished with a 7-8 mark as eastside sekiwake, has been relegated to the east komusubi position, while Mongolian Kakuryu returns to sumo's fourth rank on the west.
Nine wrestlers were promoted to the makuuchi division — the most since the start of the Showa era (1926-1989).
New addition Kyokunankai needed 105 meets to reach the elite class.
Sokokurai is the first Chinese-born wrestler to make it into the makuuchi division. Former sekiwake Tosanoumi rejoins the makuuchi as the oldest wrestler in the top division at 38 years, six months.
There are only three Japanese wrestlers in the sanyaku, the three ranks below yokozuna.