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Hakuho aims to end ‘long’ title drought

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Yokozuna Hakuho prepares for the upcoming New Year Grand Sumo Tournament during a training session last month.

The Yomiuri Shimbun Heading into the first sumo tournament of the new year, yokozuna Hakuho is certainly among the favorites to come away with the Emperor’s Cup. It’s been too long, for him at least, since he did so.

Hakuho will be aiming to end a three-tournament title drought when he takes to the raised ring at the New Year Grand Tournament starting Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho already holds a place among the sport’s all-time greats with 37 career championships, and missing out on a title for a fourth straight tournament would be a first since his promotion to yokozuna.

In addition, the Mongolian star has his sights on getting closer to former ozeki Kaio’s all-time record of 1,047 wins. Hakuho goes into the New Year tourney trailing by 39.

Last year, Hakuho had to battle injuries to his right big toe and left knee, which culminated in his having to skip the Autumn tournament completely. “It was a year in which I was fighting injuries,” he said.

At a training session on Tuesday, he confirmed his resolve to avoid such a fate this year and compete in all six tournaments as part of his “responsibility” as a yokozuna.

A run of three straight titles starting with the New Year tourney would make it possible for him to reach both 40 career titles and 1,047 wins at the Summer tournament, a fact of which he is clearly aware.

“It would be like getting a double bonus,” Hakuho said.

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