Yokozuna Hakuho drove out Mongolian compatriot Harumafuji on the closing day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on May 26 to capture his 25th Emperor's Cup and complete the 15-day competition with his second-consecutive perfect record.
In the match before at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, ozeki challenger Kisenosato hit the dirt for the second time, making Hakuho's final win anticlimactic.
The victory brings Hakuho to a tie with former yokozuna Asashoryu, another Mongolian, who garnered 25 titles before his retirement ushered in the age of Hakuho as the dominant man in the sumo ring. Hakuho has now won 30 bouts in a row, and after dispatching Harumafuji (11-4), he vowed to keep his streak going when sumo's best return to the ring in Nagoya two months from now.
"I'm very happy to win in Tokyo for the first time in two years," Hakuho said. "Kisenosato had a good record and that pushed me to work harder. I am hoping for his continued success."
Unbeaten and tied with Hakuho until the 14th day, Kisenosato was crushed down to the dirt by fellow ozeki Kotoshogiku to finish his tournament with a loss. Kisenosato's defeat made Hakuho's final bout a formality as far as the title was concerned, since with two losses, Kisenosato could no longer hope for a comeback shot in a tie-breaker. Kotoshogiku had an 11-4 record.
"To be honest, seeing him lose took some pressure off me," Hakuho said.
Even so, Kisenosato demonstrated some very impressive sumo over the past 15 days.
Had he won the championship he would have been the first Japanese wrestler to achieve that honor in seven years, so he has a lot of hope resting on his shoulders in the months ahead. But with two losses and no title--he has never won a championship--talk of him becoming a yokozuna is premature. To get the final promotion, wrestlers generally need to win two tournaments in a row, and that is an extremely rare and difficult task.
In another ozeki duel, Bulgaria's Kotooshu won his eighth match and will continue to fight at that rank. He defeated Mongolia's Kakuryu, who had been a contender until Hakuho took him down on the 12th day. He lost every one of his bouts after that, and finishes with a 10-5 record.
Sekiwake Goeido slapped down No. 8 maegashira Tokitenku (10-5) for his seventh win. The sekiwake regular and ozeki hopeful was clearly off his form this tournament, and his losing record could actually send him down a notch come July. He is nevertheless one of the most promising wrestlers in the top rungs and--barring any big injuries--has a lot of room to grow.
Okinoumi, a new addition at komusubi this tournament, closed out with a win, throwing down fellow komusubi Tochiozan, but he had a disastrous debut and is heading back down into the rank and file. He had only four wins, while Tochiozan had six.
- « Prev
- Next »