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Friday, July 21, 2000

DAY 12

Akebono a win away from title in Nagoya

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Akebono barged out fourth-ranked maegashira Oginishiki on Thursday to coast to his 12th consecutive victory in the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament and come within one win of his 10th Emperor's Cup.

The Hawaiian giant looks almost certain to win his first championship since the summer "basho" in 1997 as title challengers ozeki Chiyotaikai and No. 11 maegashira Takamisakari both stumbled to defeat in the 15-day tourney at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Oginishiki (5-7) was no match for Akebono as he wrapped up Thursday's bouts with another no-nonsense win after his towering 230-kg frame made light work of the rank-and-file wrestler for a powerful force-out victory.

Defending Nagoya champion Dejima (9-3) severely dented Chiyotaikai's title hopes, proving to be too much for the fellow ozeki, who did nothing but backpedal out of the ring in the face of devastating arm thrusts.

Makuuchi division newcomer Takamisakari was unable to put up resistance against a throwing attempt by No. 6 maegashira Kaiho (6-6) and slipped into a five-way tie at 9-3 with three days left in the tournament.

Yokozuna Musashimaru (9-3) kept his faint title chances alive after ramming out fifth-ranked maegashira Higonoumi (4-8).

Sekiwake Kaio (8-4) held on to his slim hopes of promotion to sumo's second highest rank as he forced out ozeki Miyabiyama, who at 5-7 is on the brink of recording a losing record in his ozeki debut.

Musoyama (4-8), who suffered the ignominy of becoming the only the second wrestler in the Showa era to be demoted after just two tourneys as an ozeki on Wednesday, lost again after being slapped down by sekiwake Tochiazuma (9-3).

No. 13 maegashira Sentoryu (6-6) fell to No. 7 maegashira Kotonowaka (7-5).

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