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Friday, March 24, 2000

Takatoriki continues perfect run

OSAKA -- Veteran No. 14 maegashira Takatoriki extended his improbable win streak Thursday by mugging sekiwake Musoyama to boost his record to a perfect 12-0 at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takatoriki, hailing from neighboring Kobe, treated a packed house at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium to another barnstorming display, punishing Musoyama for some pre-bout gamesmanship with some vicious blows to the face which disorientated the wannabe ozeki.

After causing a false start with some delaying tactics, Musoyama, chasing promotion to sumo's second highest rank after lifting his first Emperor's Cup in the New Year, crashed to the dirt surface and left the ring with a 9-3 record in the 15-day meet.

Meanwhile, Takanohana survived a blitz from a fired-up Chiyotaikai (7-5), but finally got to grips with the ozeki and flattened him to improve to 10-2, the same mark as fellow yokozuna Musashimaru, who got lucky against komusubi Kaio.

Kaio appeared to have bagged his seventh win -- as television replays also suggested he had -- after dropping the Samoan-born giant with an arm-bar throw, only for the ringside judges to order a rematch, adjudging that both wrestlers had hit the dirt together.

Musashimaru made no mistake the second time up, quickly heaving his exhausted opponent out to secure double-digit wins.

Yokozuna Akebono had an easy day at the office, moving to 9-3 as ozeki Takanonami suddenly lost his footing and returned to the changing room nursing a 5-7 record.

Dejima salvaged some ozeki pride by barging out No. 5 maegashira Akinoshima (4-8), while newly promoted sekiwake Miyabiyama joined the trio on 9-3 as he gently deposited sixth-ranked Tochinonada (8-4) onto the sandy ring as if putting a baby to bed.

There was little to cheer about for Mongolian sumo fans watching the NHK satellite broadcast back in Ulan Bator as Kyokushuzan and Kyokutenho both flopped for the second day running.

Kyokushuzan will face a demotion from his top-ranked maegashira spot next time out after he was bundled over by sekiwake Tochiazuma (6-6) to slip to 4-8, while No. 2 maegashira Kyokutenho fell to sixth-ranked Shikishima, leaving both men at 3-9.

Minatofuji out

OSAKA -- Fourth-ranked maegashira Minatofuji has withdrawn from the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament with an ankle injury, officials from the wrestler's Minato stable said Thursday.

Minatofuji suffered a lopsided defeat to third-ranked Kotoryu on Thursday and twisted his right ankle as his opponent landed on top of him, sending the Gunma Prefecture native hobbling away from the ring with a 2-10 record in the 15-day meet.

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