Photo/IllutrationYokozuna Hakuho, right, tosses out rival yokozuna Kakuryu on the final day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka on March 24. (Ryo Kato)

  • Photo/Illustraion

OSAKA--Yokozuna Hakuho ended the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on March 24 here, the last of the Heisei Era, in style, recording a perfect 15-0 mark to claim his record-extending 42nd championship.

The 34-year-old Mongolian defeated countryman and rival yokozuna Kakuryu on the last day of the 15-day tournament at Edion Arena Osaka in a prolonged and hard-fought battle.

That ended the playoff hopes of No. 4 maegashira Ichinojo, who won an earlier bout to go 14-1 and kept the pressure on Hakuho.

The championship marked the first for Hakuho, who is 192 centimeters tall and weighs 158 kilograms, in the three tourneys since September 2018. The Osaka spring tournament was the last of the Heisei Era due to the abdication of Emperor Akihito at the end of April.

Hakuho's 42 career titles are the most since the system of six tournaments per year started in 1958. The number is much higher than the second most of 32 posted by legendary yokozuna Taiho (1940-2013), who retired in 1971.

It was also Hakuho's 15th career title that came with no losses.

Meanwhile, it became certain that sekiwake Takakeisho, 22, who hails from Hyogo Prefecture, will be promoted to ozeki, the second-highest rank, in the next tournament after sufficiently meeting the criteria for promotion.

A wrestler is expected to achieve a total of 33 wins in the latest three tournaments as sekiwake, the third-highest rank, or komusubi, the fourth-highest rank.

Takakeisho, who won 10 bouts in the spring tournament, also recorded 11 wins in the January tourney and 13 wins in the November tourney, which he won. In total, he has recorded 34 wins over his last three tournaments.

On the final day, Takakeisho beat ozeki Tochinoshin, 31, from Georgia, who will be demoted from the second-highest rank because his number of losses, including absent days, exceeded that of wins in two consecutive tournaments.

He ended the spring tourney with seven wins and eight losses. In the January tournament, he withdrew after four consecutive losses from Day 1.