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Monday, Sept. 27, 2010

Hakuho finishes flawless again


By DAVE HUESTON
Kyodo News

It's affirmed: The gulf in the power gap has gone beyond his wildest dreams.

News photo
Mr Perfect: Hakuho (left) tussles with Harumafuji at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho went out on cloud nine on Sunday, soundly beating countryman Harumafuji to finish with a 15-0 record a day after securing his 16th Emperor's Cup at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho took the challenge by Harumafuji, shrugging off the ozeki's fierce charge before reaching inside to send his opponent reeling over the edge in one swift motion. Harumafuji finished at 8-7.

The lone yokozuna is the only man since the incorporation of the six-tournament system in 1958 to have ever gone four straight meets undefeated. He matched former yokozuna greats Taiho and Futabayama for first place with eight undefeated titles on the all-time list.

Extending his winning streak to 62 bouts, Hakuho is just seven wins from matching the legendary Futabayama, who went on a tear from 1936-1939 when a two-tourney system existed.

"I am by no means a strong person but I am fortunate," said Hakuho. "Fortune comes only to people who work hard for it. It's not only for sumo, but I think God shines fortune on me for trying to learn many things."

Hakuho will resume his march, which began on the 14th day of the New Year meet in January, for the historic mark at the Kyushu meet in November.

At the Nagoya meet in July, Hakuho had to go without the Emperor's Cup trophy after a gambling ring tied to organized crime surfaced in the national sport.

"At the last meet it was really a disappointment (not to receive the Emperor's Cup)," he said. "With the Emperor's Cup returning at this basho, I was resolved to get even stronger. It's shining more than ever."

Hakuho said he was feeling the pressure early in the meet when he was approaching former yokozuna Chiyonofuji's 53-bout run, but he grew more relaxed after surpassing the mark.

"With the media making such a big deal, I was nervous around 53 and 54," the 25-year-old Hakuho said. "But I kept thinking every day that I never want to experience what I did in Nagoya. That's what made me strong."

Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hanaregoma said, "The only thing I can say about Hakuho is he's fantastic. The focal point now is how far he can extend his winning streak."



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