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Saturday, July 15, 2000


Akebono recovers after scare

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Akebono came perilously close to his first defeat Friday, but recovered just in time to blast out Tochinohana and maintain sole possession of the lead at 6-0 in the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Chasing his first Emperor's Cup since May 1997, Akebono got overeager and, unable to stop his forward momentum, almost touched the dirt with his right hand in the penultimate bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

However, the Hawaiian-born giant was allowed time to regain his balance before catching Tochinohana with some juicy shots to the face that left the top-ranked maegashira in a crumpled heap at the ring's edge and nursing a 1-5 record.

Hard on the heels of Akebono, fellow yokozuna Takanohana gobbled up No. 2 maegashira Takanowaka (1-5) like a Venus flytrap as he immediately locked onto the belt with both hands and lifted his opponent out to register his fifth win.

But the third of the yokozuna triumvirate, Musashimaru, tripped on a banana skin in the day's final bout against sekiwake Takanonami, who skillfully levered his bulkier opponent out to leave both men at 4-2.

Komusubi Tosanoumi picked up only his second win as he got off his trademark hard charge and quickly jolted newly promoted ozeki Miyabiyama back over the straw bails for his third loss.

Ozeki Dejima, the defending Nagoya champion, survived a scare against Tochinonada (1-5), but dug in at the edge and came back to shove out the third-ranked maegashira for win No. 5.

Musoyama, who needs eight wins to retain his ozeki rank after missing the summer tourney with a back injury, mugged third-ranked maegashira Asanowaka (1-5) in a one-sided bout to even his record to 3-3.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai quickly bulldozed sekiwake Tochiazuma out to leave both wrestlers at 4-2, while Kaio, chasing ozeki promotion after lifting his first Emperor's Cup in May, twisted down winless komusubi Tamakasuga to move to 4-2.

American No. 13 maegashira Sentoryu, making his debut in the makuuchi division after 12 years in the "minor leagues," slipped to 4-2 as he charged in too low and was flipped down by 10th-ranked Hamanoshima.

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