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Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010

News photo
Special talent: Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho beat Kotooshu on Saturday, a day before he officially captures the Emperor's Cup at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho secures title with 61st consecutive triumph


By DAVE HUESTON
Kyodo News

With his fourth consecutive title already in the bag, Hakuho unleashed his fury on Kotooshu to extend his winning streak to 61 bouts at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.

It turned out to be an anticlimactic final after maegashira wrestlers Yoshikaze and Takekaze lost their respective bouts to fall out of the title race, but the lone yokozuna still made it a mouth-watering finale on the 14th day of action at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho, who now has 16 career championship wins, laid the pressure on thick, slamming his opponent back to the ring's edge after getting his right hand inside for a belt grip and kept on the hustle before propelling the ozeki into the ringside seats for a 14-0 mark.

"Since the title was already decided, I wasn't feeling nervous. This is the first time for me to win four titles in a row, so I have a sense of achievement. I feel relieved," said Hakuho.

"I was very focused since I wanted to win the title and continue my streak."

Kotooshu, who was the first wrestler Hakuho defeated to kick off his historic run on the 14th day of the New Year meet in January, dropped to 9-5.

"My charge wasn't good today. I needed to grab his mawashi," Kotooshu said.

Hakuho, who won his third straight title without having to wait until the final day of the 15-day meet, is chasing former yokozuna Futabayama's legendary 69-bout run, which he set in 1936-39, when a two-tournament system was in place.

"In order to win the title you have to keep winning. I have been in this position (yokozuna) for almost four years, so I know the significance and how difficult it is to get wins," said Hakuho.

A win over Harumafuji on Sunday will give Hakuho an unprecedented fourth straight championship with a 15-0 record, leaving him seven wins shy of Futabayama's mark for the Kyushu meet in November. "Tomorrow is tomorrow. It's not over yet," he said.

Hakuho is the first to win four straight titles since former yokozuna Asashoryu accomplished the feat in 2006-07.

In other bouts, Yoshikaze was sent retreating over the edge immediately at the face-off by Kotoshogiku, who improved to 9-5, while Georgian Tochinoshin (8-6) deployed an overarm throw on Takekaze, deflating the air from the title race before the final bout.

Kaio gave youngster Kisenosato a sumo clinic, getting his left hand on the komusubi's mawashi before sending him out to a losing record with a powerful frontal force out.

The sellout crowd gave thunderous applause for another vintage performance by the 38-year-old Tomozuna stable wrestler, who picked up his eighth win to save his ozeki rank.

Estonian Baruto walloped Mongolian Harumafuji (8-6) with a storm of shoves, sending his ozeki rival backing over the edge to improve to 9-5.

Mongolian komusubi Kakuryu slipped to a sixth defeat after Aminishiki sidestepped at the face-off and improved to the same 8-6 record.

Aran chalked up a sixth win after barreling over Tokusegawa (5-9), while fellow sekiwake Tochiozan muscled out Mongolian Hakuba (8-6) to give himself a 10-4 mark.

Earlier, Gagamaru (9-5) heaved out fellow Georgian wrestler Kokkai (8-6) in a lopsided affair.

Sylvester Stallone, acclaimed for his role as Rocky who is in Japan promoting his movie "The Expendables," was in attendance along with Dolph Lundgren, who played his nemesis Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV."



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