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Friday, Sept. 17, 2010
Hakuho moves closer to a major milestone
By DAVE HUESTON
The Wolf is howling now.
Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho came within one victory of etching his name in sumo's "Hall of Fame" alongside former yokozuna great Chiyonofuji on Friday with a demolition of Georgian Tochinoshin on the fifth day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
Hakuho was never in any real trouble as he waited patiently for the perfect moment to dispose of Tochinoshin in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
After getting his right hand inside on the No. 2 maegashira's belt, the yokozuna twisted his opponent onto his buttocks for the win, stretching his incredible winning streak to 52 bouts.
He is just one win from equaling the mark of Chiyonofuji — nicknamed "The Wolf" due to the piercing glare he used to give opponents — set from May to November 1988.
For today, anyway, Hakuho was happy to match his father's 52-bout streak in Mongolian sumo.
"I was very calm as I wrestled my opponent today. I'll do my best in tomorrow's bout," said Hakuho, who faces Kotoshogiku on Friday.
Futabayama holds the all-time leading record of 69 straight wins since the start of the Showa era (1926-1988), which he set from the seventh day of the 1936 spring meet until the third day of the 1939 spring meet, with Chiyonofuji in second during the same era.
Three other wrestlers from more ancient times — Tanikaze (63) from the Edo period (1603-1868), Umegatani (58) from the Meiji era (1868-1911) and Tachiyama (56), whose record extended from the Meiji to the Taisho period — are among the elite group of five.
If Hakuho can win his fourth consecutive tournament with a perfect 15-0 mark at the Tokyo meet, he would be just seven wins shy of Futabayama's record — something roughly equivalent to Joe DiMaggio's feat of hitting in 56 consecutive games in the major leagues.
Hakuho shares the lead at 5-0 with Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu and rank-and-filer Yoshikaze.
Kotooshu went on the rampage against Wakanosato and came close to falling to his first defeat after he stumbled clumsily over the edge, but his winless opponent had already stepped out of the ring.
Ozeki Harumafuji (4-1), who announced the same day he will get married, beat Tokitenku using a salvo of thrusts to send his winless opponent over the ridge.
Veteran Kaio (3-2), who needs eight wins this time to retain his ozeki status, was devoured by Mongolian komusubi Kakuryu (2-3), who got his right hand inside before ushering his opponent out of the ring.
Estonian ozeki Baruto (4-1) was never fooled by winless Homasho, who attempted to move to his right out of the crouch but was abruptly shown the exit in a textbook frontal force out.
Komusubi Kisenosato (2-3) was sent backpedaling over the edge with minimal fuss against sekiwake Tochiozan, who unleashed a frontal assault to pick up a fourth win.
Russian Aran escaped from the jaws of defeat after he was pushed to the edge by Mongolian Kyokutenho, using his arm strength to twist his opponent over the straw bales at the last second. Both men are at 2-3.
Crowd favorite Takamisakari (2-3) retreated against Tokusegawa (3-2) immediately after the face-off, despite his pre-bout histrionics to rile himself for the fight.
Yoshikaze swatted down Shimotori (2-3) to remain the only unbeaten Japanese wrestler.
Earlier, Gagamaru (4-1) laid the pressure on thick in a frontal attack of Tochinonada (3-2) before using his left hand to topple his opponent over the edge by the "mawashi."