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Monday, Jan. 24, 2011

News photo
All in hand: Hakuho (right) gets a grip on Kaio's throat on the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

Hakuho finishes New Year tournament on winning note

Kyodo News

Hakuho wrapped up another fruitful campaign with a hard-fought victory over veteran ozeki Kaio on Sunday, the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Mongolian, who secured his sixth straight Emperor's Cup and 18th overall on Saturday, was given a run for his money by crowd favorite Kaio (9-6) in the last bout of the 15-day basho, but he prevailed with a rear push out to finish with a 14-1 record at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The lone yokozuna became only the third man in history to claim six straight titles, following Taiho, who achieved the feat twice, and Asashoryu, who holds the record with seven.

"I'm delighted to be up there alongside the great Taiho. I have had nothing but things to celebrate at this tournament," said Hakuho, referring to the birth of his daughter earlier in the day.

"Now I have to maintain responsibility. There are still five tournaments to go this year and I will do my best."

Hakuho's only defeat here came against sekiwake Kisenosato, the same opponent that halted his sensational winning run at 63 bouts, just six shy of Futabayama's all-time record, at the Kyushu meet last November.

"I also lost to him at the last tournament but won the championship so I stayed positive and kept on making an effort," said Hakuho.

In other bouts at the top of the rankings, Bulgarian Kotooshu (10-5) came out on top of an all-European ozeki battle when he got hold of Baruto's (9-6) belt and floored the Estonian with a frontal crush-out technique.

Kisenosato made it double-digit victories in his bout with Harumafuji, landing some juicy shots to the Mongolian ozeki's face before blasting him out to a seventh loss.

Kisenosato, who pulled off another stunning upset win over Hakuho on the 11th day, won the Outstanding Performance Prize, one of three special awards given to makuuchi-division wrestlers on the final day of a tournament.

The 24-year-old was the man responsible for halting Hakuho's sensational winning run at 63 bouts, just six shy of Futabayama's all-time record, at the Kyushu meet last November.

Sekiwake Kotoshogiku, who won the Technique Prize for the third time, got pulled down by the back of the head by fifth-ranked Goeido, leaving both men with 11-4 records.

Okinoumi (11-4) took the Fighting Spirit Prize for the first time but was unable to close out with victory.



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