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Monday, Jan. 15, 2001


Leading duo cruise in New Year sumo

Takanohana and Musashimaru flexed their muscles Sunday as the yokozuna rivals posted impressive wins to remain tied for the lead at 8-0 in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana weathered an early storm against sekiwake Wakanosato (5-3) in the day's final bout, but turned on the power when it mattered at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Coolly extracting himself from his opponent's clutches, Takanohana secured a vice-like belt grip with his left hand and slowly squeezed Wakanosato back over the straw bails for a textbook win watched by only the third full house of the tourney so far.

Musashimaru met little resistance from No. 4 maegashira Akinoshima (3-5) as the Samoan-born giant quickly shoved out the Futagoyama stable veteran.

Kaio showed genuine ozeki form against No. 3 maegashira Wakanoyama (4-4) as he exploded from the blocks and deposited his bulky opponent onto the ringside cushions to stay in touch with the leaders at 6-2 in the 15-day meet.

Ozeki Musoyama made hard work of his bout with Tochinonada (4-4) and almost paid for a lack of control, until two well-placed blows finally decked the komusubi and gave the defending New Year champion his fifth win of the meet.

Meanwhile, fourth-ranked maegashira Tochiazuma gave Dejima (4-4) a sumo lesson as he turned the ozeki inside out before bumping him out from behind to boost his own record to 5-3.

Miyabiyama again looked out of his depth at ozeki, but got a break when first-time komusubi Takanowaka (2-6) failed to press home his early advantage, allowing him to barge the Naruto stable upstart off the raised ring and move to 5-3.

Newly promoted sekiwake Kotomitsuki, the runnerup in Kyushu, continued his miserable New Year form as he quickly hit the dirt against No. 3 maegashira Kaiho (2-6) and slipped to 1-7.

Women's championship

Rie Tsuihiji on Sunday won her fifth straight open title at the women's national sumo championships.

Third-year high school student Tamami Iwai was a popular winner in the lightweight class, while Satomi Ishigaya picked up the middleweight title. Emi Asai won the heavyweight division.

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