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Tuesday, April 25, 2000

JSA releases rankings for summer tourney

The Musashigawa Stable had its string of six tournament championships snapped in March, but returns with a yokozuna and two ozeki for next month's summer tourney, according to the rankings released Monday by the Japan Sumo Association.

Newly promoted ozeki Musoyama joins yokozuna Musashimaru and ozeki Dejima in the elite ranks for the May 7-21 Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, with sekiwake Miyabiyama poised to give the Musashigawa Stable a third ozeki.

Yokozuna Akebono, 12-3 in the Osaka spring tourney, takes over the grand champion's top position on the East side of the ring, while rival Takanohana is top-rated on the West side.

Musashimaru, the defending champion still looking for his first championship of the year, also gets a seat on the East side.

Dejima is top-rated among the ozeki, while stablemate Musoyama will be seated across the ring on the West after earning promotion to sumo's second highest rank with a 12-3 record as a sekiwake in Osaka last month.

Rough-and-tumble Chiyotaikai grabs a second spot on the East for ozeki, while Takanonami hangs onto his ozeki ranking despite a 7-8 record at the spring tourney, but will face demotion with eight or more losses.

Miyabiyama and Tochiazuma give the sekiwake rank two wrestlers who can pull some upsets over higher-ranked opponents. And with 23 wins in his two previous tournaments, Miyabiyama could possibly become the Musashigawa Stable's third ozeki with 10 or more wins.

Takatoriki, the surprise Emperor's Cup winner in Osaka as a No. 14 maegashira, vaults 14 places into the komusubi rank to join fellow-veterans Tosanoumi and Kaio.

The promotion of Takatoriki to komusubi is the first time in a year that the the Futagoyama Stable grappler has appeared in "sanyaku" -- the three ranks below yokozuna. Three new wrestlers -- Kotomitsuki, Tochinohana and Jumonji -- advance into the elite makuuchi division for the first time.

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The Japan Times

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