Yokozuna Hakuho of Mongolia won the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sept. 28 to capture his 31st Emperor’s Cup while furthering his status as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport.
In the day’s final bout at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, Hakuho sprang free from Kakuryu’s right-hand grip to the belt and threw his fellow compatriot and grand champion down to improve to 14-1. Kakuryu fell to 11-4.
With the win, Hakuho moves into a tie with yokozuna great Chiyonofuji and is just one behind sumo legend Taiho for the most championships.
“I’m very relieved,” the 29-year-old Hakuho said. “I watched (Chiyonofuji) when I was young and always aspired to be a wrestler like him so I am very happy.”
When asked about the prospect of equaling and surpassing Taiho’s mark for the most titles, Hakuho replied, “I just want to relax and savor this win for a while.”
Hakuho made sure there was no extra title-deciding bout with upstart Mongolian Ichinojo, who won earlier to keep his title hopes alive. Ichinojo needed Hakuho to lose to send the tournament to a playoff.
But Hakuho held a 32-4 advantage over Kakuryu heading into the day’s final bout so it was going to be a tall order from the outset.
Still, it was an impressive outing for makuuchi division debutante Ichinojo, who stunned the sumo world with his meteoric rise up the leaderboard.
Maegashira No. 10 Ichinojo kept his title hopes alive when he got both arms around Aminishiki and waltzed the veteran grappler out to improve to 13-2.
The 21-year-old Ichinojo attended high school in Tottori Prefecture after moving to Japan from Mongolia. He won the juryo division championship at the summer tourney. He then went 13-2 as a juryo in the Nagoya tournament in July.
Ichinojo was bidding to become the first wrestler to win a title in his debut in the elite level since Ryogoku did so in 1914 at the summer tournament.
For his efforts, Ichinojo was awarded an Outstanding Performance Prize and a Fighting Spirit Prize.
Aminishiki, a sixth-ranked maegashira, finished with an impressive 10-5 record.
In other major bouts, Goeido wrapped up a winning record in his ozeki debut when he shoved out sekiwake Takekaze to improve to 8-7. Takekaze fell to 7-8.
Maegashira No. 8 Tochiozan put the finishing touches on a superb showing when he beat fourth-ranked Takarafuji (8-7) to close out the tournament with an 11-4 record.
Egypt’s Osunaarashi, a maegashira No. 4, shoved out crowd favorite Endo to improve to 7-8. Top maegashira Endo has struggled mightily at the autumn meet and finished with an unflattering 3-12 record.
Fifth-ranked maegashira Toyohibiki secured a winning record of 8-7 when he upended komusubi Jokoryu, who finished with a 4-11 record.