Grand champion Hakuho claimed his 10th straight win on Tuesday to take a two-bout lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in his quest for a record-extending 42nd top division championship.
On the 10th day of the 15-day tournament, Hakuho calmly dispatched No. 4 Okinoumi (6-4), while a knee injury may have taken No. 15 Chiyonokuni, who had been the only wrestler one win off the pace, out of the running for his maiden makuuchi division title.
In the final bout of the day, Hakuho, the sole yokozuna in competition, immediately latched onto his rank-and-file opponent with a left-handed belt hold and effortlessly maneuvered him over the straw.
The Mongolian grand champion will next face komusubi Mitakeumi (5-2-3), who returns to the meet Wednesday after missing three days with a left leg injury.
Two more wrestlers' fates are in question after Chiyonokuni and No. 13 Kotoyuki (4-6) both suffered injuries at a tournament which has already seen yokozuna Kakuryu, ozeki Tochinoshin and Mitakeumi withdraw after getting hurt at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Chiyonokuni took his second loss of the tournament and suffered a knee injury that has his further participation at the year's opening grand tournament in question.
After failing to budge No. 11 Ikioi (6-4) after the initial clash, Chiyonokuni was driven to the edge of the ring, lost his footing and fell, then twisted down onto his left knee. He was carried off the dohyo screaming in pain and had taken out of the main hall in a wheelchair.
"Of course I'm worried, but I'm also full of injuries," said Ikioi, who has been fighting with a bandaged forehead since suffering a bloody cut on opening day. "(This sport) is live or die."
Of the wrestlers in a four-way tie for third place, only Tamawashi (8-2) secured a winning record on Day 10, with a solid victory against No. 2 Nishikigi (4-6). The Mongolian sekiwake blasted into his opponent with a strong initial charge, and followed up with a left-handed slap to remain two wins off the lead.
Both ozeki bounced back from poor starts with victories on Tuesday, Takayasu (5-5) beating Kyushu champion Takakeisho (7-3) and Goeido (4-6) defeating No. 4 Kotoshogiku (4-6).
Takakeisho, gunning for a promotion and second straight title, looked poised for a push-out win against Takayasu, but fell into the ozeki's trap as Takayasu slid to the side while slapping his lunging opponent over the straw.
Prior to his colleague's win, Goeido put up a wall against Kotoshogiku and guided him down to the sand after getting the former ozeki to tumble with an outside leg trip.
In other upper-ranked bouts, Myogiryu took a spill off the ring against No. 2 Hokutofuji (6-4) and dropped to 4-6. Hokutofuji had the komusubi on the ropes from the outset, and steadily muscled Myogiryu over the edge.
Among the rank-and-file wrestlers, No. 8 Kaisei (7-3) was quickly defeated by No. 5 Aoiyama (6-4) and took his second straight loss. The battle of the big Brazilian and burly Bulgarian ended in favor of Aoiyama, with Kaisei unable to defend against his lighter opponent's massive shoves.
No. 13 Yago (7-3) also suffered back-to-back losses after tiring out against No. 7 Daieisho (4-6). The makuuchi debutant held his ground and spun his opponent around for an advantage, but looked winded as he allowed Daieisho to bulldoze him out of the ring.
Prior to Tuesday's bouts, former sekiwake and current juryo division No. 12 Takekaze announced his retirement from the sport. The Oguruma stable wrestler fell to a losing record on Day 9 after suffering his eighth loss of the tournament.
"I don't have a single regret. A lot of people watched me for a long time," Takekaze said.
A longtime makuuchi division stalwart, Takekaze made his professional debut in 2002 and was promoted to the top tier the following year. In 2014, he became the oldest wrestler in the post-war period to be promoted to sekiwake, but held sumo's third highest rank for only a single tournament.
He finished with 590 wins and 669 losses over 86 grand tournaments in the top division. The 39-year-old Akita Prefecture native is expected to take up coaching under the name "Oshiogawa."