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Friday, Sept. 15, 2000

DAY 12

Maru racks up 12th straight win

Grand champion Musashimaru overpowered komusubi Takanonami on Thursday to register his 12th consecutive victory at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament and move within two wins of his first championship of the year.

Meanwhile, fellow yokozuna Akebono edged out Kaio for an 11th win to keep the pressure on the unbeaten Musashimaru heading into the final three days of the 15-day event at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

In Thursday's final bout Musashimaru had to work hard to keep his winning streak intact as Takanonami (7-5) put up a brave fight before the defending champion finally flipped the komusubi over with a powerful belt throw. Akebono, for his part, came perilously close to his second loss as newly promoted ozeki Kaio (9-3) turned him around after the initial charge, forcing the Nagoya tourney champion to edge of the ring.

Akebono, however, refused to step over the straw bales and got every ounce of strength behind his 230-kg frame to bundle the ozeki out and keep his hopes for back-to-back titles alive.

In other key bouts, No. 6 maegashira Kotonowaka (7-5) could only backpedal out of the ring as ozeki Dejima (9-3) came out of his crouch with all guns blazing while ozeki Miyabiyama (7-5) downed No. 5 maegashira Takanowaka (5-7) for an easy win.

Chiyotaikai (9-3) did not have to work very hard for his ninth win as the ozeki easily walked out fourth-ranked maegashira Toki (5-7).

Yokozuna Musashimaru uses an upper-arm throw to fell komusubi Takanonami on Thursday.

Sekiwake Musoyama (8-4) overpowered Tochinohana (7-5) as the ozeki hopeful got a firm grip on the third-ranked maegashira's right arm before hauling him down.

Musoyama needs two wins over the last three days of the tourney to regain his position at sumo's second highest rank.

Meanwhile, former maegashira Ohinode of the Tatsunami stable has been forced to hang up his mawashi due to illness, sumo officials said Thursday.

Ohinode informed stable master Tatsunami of his decision after telling him that he is suffering from a blockage in his lungs and is not well enough to wrestle anymore.

Ohinode wrestled as a maegashira in six tournaments.

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