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Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Takatoriki increases lead in Osaka basho

OSAKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Takanonami snapped out of his funk Tuesday to defeat yokozuna Musashimaru and give stablemate and unbeaten leader Takatoriki some extra daylight at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Musashimaru, who came into the day's final bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium with an 8-1 record, lost the initiative at the face-off as Takanonami neutralized the Samoan-born giant's thrusting attack by quickly locking onto his belt.

The slumping ozeki never let Musashimaru get even a sniff of victory, marching him out with surprising ease to boost his own record to 4-6.

Earlier, No. 14 maegashira Takatoriki showed neat footwork in escaping from ninth-ranked Oginishiki (5-5), before flinging him to the deck to improve to a perfect 10-0 in the 15-day meet.

Yokozuna Takanohana joined the five-way tie for second place after finally getting to grips with No. 4 maegashira Takanowaka (2-8) and bulldozing him out to up his record to 8-2.

Akebono registered a carbon-copy victory for win No. 8 as the Hawaiian-born yokozuna used his 230-kg bulk to force out third-ranked maegashira Kotoryu (3-7) in a one-sided bout.

Sekiwake Musoyama, chasing ozeki promotion after winning his first Emperor's Cup in January, bundled out his bogeyman, top-ranked maegashira Kyokushuzan, to improve to 8-1.

Kyokushuzan was left at 4-6 after Musoyama beat the Mongolian trickster for the only fifth time in 11 meetings.

Newly promoted sekiwake Miyabiyama, runnerup to his Musashigawa stablemate in the New Year's tourney, also posted his eighth win as he bumped out sekiwake Tochiazuma, who slipped to 4-6 and has work to do to avoid a demotion next time out.

Meanwhile, Chiyotaikai cleverly snuffed out the explosive attack of Dejima by going to the belt to win an ozeki showdown and leave both men at 6-4.

Mongolian Kyokutenho continued to look out of his depth at his No. 2 maegashira rank as he was forced out by out-of-shape No. 4 maegashira Minatofuji (2-8) and slipped to 3-7.

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