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Thursday, July 20, 2000

DAY 11

Akebono rolls to 11th victory

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Akebono breezed past No. 4 maegashira Wakanoyama on Wednesday to snatch his 11th straight win and remain the undefeated leader in the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, with just four days left in the 15-day event.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai and 11th-ranked maegashira Takamisakari, the only two remaining wrestlers to register nine wins, kept the pressure on the grand champion at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

In Wednesday's penultimate bout, watched by French president Jacques Chirac, Akebono blocked Wakanoyama's challenge at the face-off and with two mighty shoves escorted him over the straw bails to keep his sights firmly on the championship. Wakanoyama is 5-6.

Chiyotaikai (9-2), after looking a little shaky in the opening exchanges, got the better of top-ranked maegashira Tochinohana (5-6), getting a firm grip on his belt before dumping him out of the ring.

Takamisakari, a makuuchi-division newcomer who secured a winning record Tuesday, kept his championship hopes alive by downing No. 14 maegashira Kinkaiyama (5-6) with a beltless arm throw.

In a matchup of sekiwake, Kaio (7-4) dented Tochiazuma's title chances while keeping his faint hopes of promotion to sumo's second-highest rank alive with a hard-fought victory. Tochiazuma dropped to 8-3.

Ozeki Musoyama, who needed to win to retain his rank, came bursting out of his crouch with a series of slaps, only to lose his footing and tumble to demotion at the hands of komusubi Tosanoumi, who improved to 4-7.

Musoyama, promoted to ozeki before the summer meet in May, became only the second wrestler in the post-war era to be demoted after spending just two tournaments as ozeki. He can return to ozeki if he scores at least 11 victories in the upcoming autumn tournament.

In Wednesday's other main bouts, yokozuna Musashimaru (8-3) shoved out fifth-ranked Hayateumi (6-5) while stablemate and defending Nagoya champion Dejima (8-3) forced out No. 4 maegashira Oginishiki (5-6).

Newly promoted ozeki Miyabiyama, also of the Musashigawa stable, moved to 5-6 after easily pushing out fifth-ranked maegashira Higonoumi (4-7).

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