Mongolian grand champ Hakuho sets record 1,048 wins in sumo

BY AP • July 21, 2017

TOKYO (AP) Mongolian grand champion Hakuho set the record for most career wins in sumo after toppling ozeki Takayasu in the Nagoya grand sumo tournament on Friday.

Hakuho's milestone 1,048th win surpassed the total that former ozeki Kaio finished on in 2011.

Born Munkhbat Davajarga, the Mongolian yokozuna started his sumo career at age 16, and made his tournament debut in 2001. Hakuho also has set records for winning 760 bouts as yokozuna, clinching 38 tournaments, 13 of them undefeated - also a record.

''I'm so happy I was able to achieve the record before so many fans,'' Hakuko said as he tried to catch his breath after slamming down Takayasu.

Fans cheered, holding up signs reading ''Hakuho'' and ''Congrats 1,048 wins.''

His success underscores a growing presence of foreign rikishi in Japan's centuries-old national sport. Three of the four rikishi currently holding the yokozuna rank are Mongolian.

Still, Japan's conservative sumo association bans foreign nationals from becoming stable master. Hakuho is reportedly considering obtaining Japanese citizenship so he can serve that role eventually after retirement.