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Monday, May 8, 2000

Yokozuna pair win openers

Yokozuna Akebono bounced komusubi Takatoriki into the ringside seats at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday as most of the top wrestlers posted wins on the opening day of the 15-day Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Yokozuna Takanohana backed out top maegashira Tochinonada for an easy win, while sekiwake Miyabiyama kicked off his bid for ozeki with a shaky win over No. 2 maegashira Hamanoshima.

Akebono, seeking to end a three-year winless drought, wasted little time against Takatoriki, the surprise winner of the spring tourney in March as No. 14 maegashira.

The grand champion got all 230 kg behind his initial shove at the faceoff, knocking the 145-kg Takatoriki back to the edge of the ring.

Akebono followed up quickly and used another powerful shove to knock the komusubi onto his behind and into the ringside seats.

In other bouts, Takanohana, hoping for his first title in 20 months, wrapped up Tochinonada at the faceoff and waltzed his opponent out of the ring.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai stunned Asanowaka with a solid right shoulder to the top maegashira's chin at the charge and then dropped his foe for an easy win. Takanonami, needing at least eight wins to hold onto sumo's second-highest rank, backed out second-ranked Wakanoyama.

Ozeki Dejima was the biggest casualty of opening day, giving up belt control to komusubi Kaio and then getting twisted down to the ring's surface.

Miyabiyama, meanwhile, was also beaten at the faceoff by No. 2 maegashira Hamanoshima, who secured control of the back of the 180-kg sekiwake's sash.

The savvy 22-year-old, however, waited patiently for Hamanoshima to make his move and then slapped his opponent down as the two struggled at the edge of the ring and fell out of bounds.

A second minor casualty was sekiwake Tochiazuma, who was pulled out of the ring by Oginishiki as the No. 3 maegashira escaped to the right along the straw ridge.

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