The team at Tachiai anticipated that Nagoya would be the basho where Hakuho finally broke the all time win record, surpassing first Chiyonofuji and then Kaio, to add yet another record to his name. On his way to racking up his 39th yusho, he was only defeated on day 11 when he was surprised by future Ozeki Mitakeumi.
His “go-ahead” victory came against Takayasu on day 13, and it was “The Boss” side-stepping the shin-Ozeki’s tachiai that put him in control. Some sumo fans were outraged that he would use essentially a henka to win his record setting match, but I think it is perfectly in keeping with Hakuho’s approach to sumo. He uses everything at his disposal to win every time he can. He does so with power, and uncanny speed.
For those that want to review the match, it’s at the end of Jason’s day 13 highlights on YouTube
Sadly, because of his loss, Hakuho cannot even begin to consider an assault on a record fans know he lusts for – the all time consecutive win streak owned (possibly forever) by the god of sumo, Futabayama.
Hakuho’s fans (and they are legion) are justifyibly jubilant, and many have proclaimed that he is once again unassailable. Sadly, Hakuho is all too human, and has put a very fine image forward that hides the fact that having been the top man in one of the world’s brutal combat sports, his body is one big injury away from retirement.
Tachiai notes with some worry that Hakuho withdrew from the summer jungyo to rest up a nagging knee injury he has been nursing since before Nagoya. We continue to hope that he will get his wish to be front and center at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics opening ceremonies, performing a dohyo-iri on a grand scale in front of the whole world.