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Monday, May 14, 2001

DAY 1

Musashimaru falls in opener

Ozeki Kaio muscled out sekiwake Tochinonada on Sunday, kicking off his yokozuna promotion campaign with a no-nonsense win on the opening day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Grand champion Takanohana also won, but the biggest kudos of the day went to new komusubi Asashoryu of Mongolia, who started the 15-day tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan with an upset win over yokozuna Musashimaru.

In the day's featured bout, Kaio, who won his first Emperor's Cup here last year with a 14-1 record, barely broke a sweat as he barged out Tochinonada for an easy opening-day win.

The 28-year-old Tomozuna stable grappler, who won the spring tourney in March, is within striking range of promotion to sumo's ultimate rank of yokozuna for the first time in his career.

Kaio, however, will need to lift the title or at least post an "equivalent" record to qualify for grand champion status.

Musashimaru got more than he bargained for in his bout with Asashoryu, who has yet be saddled with a losing record in 14 tourneys since his professional debut.

Asashoryu, whose 9-6 record in March lifted into him into the sanyaku ranks, broke free from the Samoan-born giant's grip at the edge of the ring before quickly twisting the yokozuna to his left and over the straw bales for a gutsy win.

Meanwhile, Takanohana, looking to win his second Emperor's Cup of the year, needed every ounce of strength and patience to shove out Kotomitsuki, back at komusubi after going 10-5 in March.

At ozeki, Miyabiyama and Chiyotaikai, who both need to record at least eight wins to hold onto sumo's second highest rank, easily defeated their respective opponents, while Dejima and Musoyama were handed upset defeats by lower-ranked wrestlers.

Mongolia's Kyokushuzan posted the first of eight wins the former komusubi needs to stay in the elite Makuuchi Division, with a force-out win over Juryo Division wrestler Wakakosho.

Compatriot Kyokutenho, though, fell to eighth-ranked Otsukasa.



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