Hakuho Davaajargal wins 34th Emperor’s Cup
Davaajargal, who drained himself ragged in an all-out battle against rival Yokozuna Harumafuji (10-5) in the finale to stave off a playoff against giant-killer "Terunofuji" Mongolian G.Gan-Erdene, claimed his sixth consecutive Emperor’s Cup with a 14-1 mark to make him only the second man after Taiho to accomplish the feat twice.
"This was a befitting tournament to follow the New Year Basho where I was able to rewrite the record," said our Yokozuna who surpassed Taiho as the all-time record holder with his 33rd career title in January. "I was very satisfied with the way I fought in most of my bouts here, and I just believed in myself".
G.Gan-Erdene (13-2) kept expectations high for an electrifying showdown against Davaajargal, when he tossed down hometown favorite Goeido (8-7) with an impregnable armbar technique in a superb display of balance and power against the Ozeki.
But despite having beaten Davaajargal on the 13th day to end the Yokozuna’s 36-bout winning streak, the odds for a come-from-behind victory were too great for Gan-Erdene as Davaajargal proved one cut above "Harumafuji" D.Byambadorj, who went kicking and screaming before he was shown the exit at Bodymaker Colosseum.
Asked what his goal was coming into the 15-day Osaka meet after claiming the all-time mark, Davaajargal said, "I had to search for something", drawing laughter and applause from the crowd.
"I feel like I have grown one or two steps. That’s the type of sumo I wrestled".
In the final bout, Davaajargal and Byambadorj got into a shoving match before Byambadorj dug underneath and attempted several times to toss his opponent with an overarm throw. But Davaajargal lined up his chest after securing a strong grip of the mawashi for the force-out.
“It’s been two years since I’ve won the Spring Basho. I want to thank all the Osaka fans. I don’t want to think of anything at the next meet. Let’s meet again next year!”
When asked about Gan-Erdene, Davaajargal responded by saying, “In the near future I think he will be heading places. Let’s fight hard together.”
Gan-Erdene was aiming to become the first newly promoted sekiwake to win a championship since ironman Futabayama did so at the 1936 Summer Basho.
“I’ll shoot for double-digit wins at the next tournament and hopefully that will lead to victory,” said Gan-Erdene, who won both the Outstanding Performance Prize (1) and Fighting Spirit Prize (2). “Now I just want to take a long rest.”
In the penultimate bout, Kisenosato (9-6) ushered out rival ozeki Kotoshogiku (8-7).
Chiyootori (11-4), who needed a win on Sunday to claim his first Fighting Spirit Prize, was left writhing in pain after he was crushed near the edge by “Ichinojo” A.Ichinnorov (9-6), and had to be wheeled back to the dressing room nursing an injured left knee.