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Sumo: Hakuho clinches 40th grand sumo championship

Yokozuna Hakuho, right, clinches the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament championship by pushing out No. 9 maegashira Endo, at Fukuoka Kokusai Center in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, on Nov. 25, 2017. (Mainichi)

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) -- Yokozuna Hakuho clinched the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament championship, the 40th title of his illustrious career on Saturday.

    Hakuho began the penultimate day of the 15-day event at Fukuoka Kokusai Center one win ahead of No. 3 maegashira Hokutofuji and No. 12 Okinoumi but neither could maintain the pressure on the Mongolian master, who triumphed in the day's final bout.

    With everything on his shoulders, the yokozuna, who sat out September's grand tournament with ankle pain, plowed out No. 9 maegashira Endo (9-5) to improve to 13-1 and clinch his championship with one day remaining.

    Hakuho overpowered Endo on the initial charge so completely that the yokozuna nearly lost his balance on the sandy surface before he could complete his victory.

    "I was motivated (after my two challengers' defeats), and I was able to execute my techniques," Hakuho said. "In March, at a meeting of my support group much was made of winning a 40th championship this year. I was able to make it in my final chance and I'm happy with the accomplishment."

    "When you come back from a break (in September) you are concerned about losing. I was anxious about that. But I did my rehab properly so I could put on a good show for the fans."

    In a clash of up-and-coming youngsters the 25-year-old Hokutofuji (11-3) lost to 21-year-old Onosho (7-7), fighting at sumo's fourth highest rank, komusubi, for the first time.

    Onosho was forced back to the straw on the charge. A full-blooded shove nearly pushed him out. But while the komusubi slipped off to one side and teetered on the brink, Hokutofuji's momentum carried him to the edge of the straw. Onosho recovered first and supplied the shove needed to end it.

    Okinoumi (11-3) lost a clash of veterans with top-ranked maegashira Tamawashi (10-4). Okinoumi, however, looked tight on the initial charge, and was forced back to the straw. He fought back from the edge but plowed forward out of control. Tamawashi stayed one step ahead of him in his retreat and was able to slap the onrushing Okinoumi to the sandy surface.

    The victory leveled the 33-year-old Tamawashi's record against the 32-year-old Okinoumi at 9-9.

    Aminishiki, who made history in this tournament at the age of 39 as the oldest wrestler ever to fight his way back into the elite makuuchi division after demotion, failed to earn a crucial eighth win.

    The No. 13 maegashira tried to outflank the much-larger, 26-year-old Chiyomaru (6-8), who kept his opponent squarely to his front and gradually forced him back. Aminishiki tried to slap and shove at his 191-kilogram opponent but could neither budge him nor get around him and eventually was shoved out.

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