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Thursday, March 16, 2000

Musoyama topples Akebono

OSAKA -- Sekiwake Musoyama looked every inch ozeki material Wednesday as he demolished grand champion Akebono in a clash of unbeaten wrestlers on Day 4 of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Chasing ozeki promotion after winning his first Emperor's Cup in January, Musoyama took advantage of Akebono's suspect balance by creating an angle to throw down the massive Hawaiian and retain a share of the lead at 4-0 with rank-and-filers Toki and Takatoriki.

Akebono, who won the last of his nine championships in May 1997, looked one-dimensional, while Musoyama stuck to his game plan by crashing in head-on at the charge, slipping to the side and then pulling out a perfectly timed right-arm throw.

Wakanohana, back in action after six months on the sidelines with injury, received a warm ovation from the crowd following rumors that the popular yokozuna is about to retire from the sport.

In an emotionally charged final bout of the day, Wakanohana went to his tool bag to engineer a clever force-out victory over winless No. 2 maegashira Tamakasuga to even his record in the 15-day meet to 2-2.

Yokozuna Takanohana, a 20-time Emperor's Cup winner, took his time against sekiwake Tochiazuma (1-3), before cutting off his opponent's ring space and showing him the way out to boost his record to 3-1.

Last year's top man, Musashimaru, met with little resistance against winless Mongolian No. 2 maegashira Kyokutenho, who weakly let the Samoan-born yokozuna steamroll his way to his third win in four days within moments of the faceoff.

Meanwhile, ozeki Dejima dropped his first bout of the tourney after a lapse in concentration against Kotoryu (2-2), allowing the No. 3 maegashira to run him out from behind for an upset win.

Mongolian No. 1 maegashira Kyokushuzan stunned Miyabiyama with a spectacular aerial maneuver at the charge, then flipped the newly promoted sekiwake onto the ringside cushions to end his opponent's three-day win streak and even his own record at 2-2.

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