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Saturday, March 25, 2000

Maru deals Takatoriki first defeat

OSAKA -- Veteran No. 14 maegashira Takatoriki saw his miracle run at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament come to an end Friday after suffering his first loss of the 15-day meet at the hands of yokozuna Musashimaru.

Takatoriki, who had a chance to win his first-ever Emperor's Cup with a win over the Samoan-born giant after Takanohana's earlier loss, came charging out of the blocks and caught his opponent off guard in the day's final bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

But Musashimaru, who almost lost his balance several times during the bout, finally managed to spin Takatoriki around near the edge and, using his considerable weight advantage, muscled the Futagoyama stable wrestler out to improve to 11-2.

Takanohana, meanwhile, suffered a serious blow to his title hopes when ozeki Dejima got both arms around the grand champion and drove him out to the surprise of the capacity crowd.

Dejima improved to 9-4 while Takanohana, who entered the day two wins off the lead with Musashimaru, joins three others at 10-3.

In other bouts, yokozuna Akebono got both hands on the belt of Tochinonada (8-5) immediately after the faceoff and then marched the sixth-ranked maegashira out over the straw ridge for his 10th win against three losses.

Sekiwake Musoyama kept his slim title hopes alive after absorbing a bone-crushing blow at the faceoff by Chiyotaikai (7-6) and then getting a grip of the determined ozeki's belt with both arms and forcing him out to improve to 10-3.

Newly promoted sekiwake Miyabiyama also stayed in the hunt for the Emperor's Cup and improved to 10-3 with a hard-fought win over Tamakasuga (5-8).

Miyabiyama deployed a barrage of arm thrusts to the throat before sending the No. 2 maegashira tumbling down to the dirt surface with a well-timed slap to the back of his opponent's head.

Earlier, Mongolian Kyokushuzan got a hold of No. 4 maegashira Takanowaka (4-9) by the arm and propelled him out to give the top-ranked maegashira only his fifth win.

Fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho, however, did not fare as well as sekiwake Tochiazuma (7-6) wrapped him up shortly after the faceoff and sent him out of the ring to his 10th loss of the tourney.

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