Mon, Jan 28, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Hakuho wins battle of Mongolians

AP , TOKYO

Sumo Grand Champion Hakuho, left, throws Asashoryu in Tokyo yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Mongolian grand champion Hakuho overpowered compatriot Asashoryu yesterday to win the Emperor's Cup on the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Hakuho prevailed in a thrilling bout after using an arm throw at the center of the ring to send his fellow grand champion tumbling to the dirt surface.

"I'm very happy," Hakuho said. "This was a bout I knew I had to win and I was determined not to give in at all."

Hakuho took control at the outset, using his superior reach to grab hold of Asashoryu's belt.

But Asashoryu held his own and eventually got a grip of Hakuho's belt, at one point lifting the larger wrestler off the raised ring.

Hoisting Hakuho, however, took its toll on Asashoryu and Hakuho used a textbook arm throw at the end of the bout to secure his sixth title and third straight with a 14-1 record.

Both wrestlers had much to prove in yesterday's bout.

Hakuho won two titles last year while Asashoryu was serving a two-tournament ban and was out to prove he could beat his main rival head-to-head.

"I knew it was important that as a grand champion I shouldn't lose to someone who has been off for two tournaments," Hakuho said.

Yesterday's bout was the first in over five years where two grand champions met on the final day of a tournament to decide a title.

In another major bout, Ama defeated Kakuryu to finish with a 9-6 record and claim the Outstanding Performance Prize.

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