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Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Waka, Maru fall on second day

OSAKA -- Grand champions Wakanohana and Musashimaru both fell to sekiwake-ranked wrestlers Monday, leaving Akebono the only unbeaten yokozuna just two days into the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Komusubi Tosanoumi also collected his second Futagoyama stable scalp by shoving ozeki Takanonami out of the ring at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium as the 15-day tourney began to show hints of blustery weather ahead for sumo's top-ranked wrestlers.

Still, Monday's two upsets were perhaps not as unpredictable as they might first appear.

Sekiwake Miyabiyama, making his debut at sumo's third highest rank, rattled Wakanohana with a rapid-fire series of thrusts and slaps at the outset. The smaller grand champion, returning to the ring after a six-month layoff, was visibly shaken.

When Wakanohana attempted to move in close and take control of Miyabiyama's sash, the sekiwake went chest-to-chest and bulldozed the yokozuna into the ringside seats.

Against Musashimaru, sekiwake Tochiazuma took advantage of the yokozuna's inability to use his left hand and pushed the one-armed grand champion out of the ring.

Musashimaru, the defending champion in Osaka, had pulled out of the New Year tourney in January with a sprained left wrist and on Monday appeared reluctant to use the left hand.

In other yokozuna bouts, Akebono ran top maegashira Wakanoyama out of the ring for his second win while Takanohana rebounded from Sunday's loss by patiently working Kyokushuzan, a top maegashira from Mongolia, out of the ring.

Tosanoumi, meanwhile, who toppled Takanohana the previous day, stood Takanonami up at the faceoff with two strong thrusts to the chest and then rammed the ozeki out in a one-sided bout.

Chiyotaikai waded through a flurry of slaps and thrusts from Tamakasuga and knocked the No. 2 maegashira out of the ring while fellow ozeki Dejima waltzed Mongolia's Kyokutenho out backward.

Sekiwake Musoyama, looking for 10 or more wins in Osaka to be considered for promotion to ozeki, plowed No. 4 maegashira Minatofuji out with a new sense of confidence after winning the New Year tourney.



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