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Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Kaio, Dejima face risk of demotion

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Ozeki pair Kaio and Dejima face a tricky battle to keep their ranks at next month's Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) confirmed Monday when it released its rankings for the July 8-22 meet. Kaio pulled out midway after aggravating a lower back injury while Dejima had a disastrous 5-10 record in the summer tourney in May. Both wrestlers now need to post winning records this time around or suffer demotion.

Kaio began his previous campaign knowing that a victory would likely have brought him promotion to yokozuna, but the injury in the build-up soon ended his hopes and forced him to face a very different prospect in Nagoya.

Dejima also needs to record at least eight wins and hopes the June 4 surgery on his right ankle will not only fix the pain but help the Musashigawa stable ozeki regain the dignity as a wrestler in sumo's second-highest rank.

At the top, summer champion Takanohana will occupy the prestigious east yokozuna spot for the third consecutive tournament.

Takanohana and Musashimaru remain the only two grand champions and both will be overwhelming favorites to fight it out again after squaring off in a championship playoff last month.

Musashimaru easily won the final regulation bout to take the title battle into overtime after a 13-2 record. But Takanohana, grimacing with pain following an injury sustained on the penultimate day, came back to secure his 22nd Emperor's Cup in dramatic fashion. Chiyotaikai lines up at the top of the ozeki ranks after recovering from injury to finish up with a respectable 12-3 record, ahead of the Musashigawa duo of Musoyama and Miyabiyama.

Rising stars Asashoryu and Kotomitsuki, who claimed eight ozeki and a yokozuna between them in the summer tourney at komusubi, got rewarded for their giant-killing exploits with Kotomitsuki moving back up to sekiwake and Asashoryu earning the east komusubi berth.

In the lower ranks, Toki jumped from No. 13 maegashira to third.

Sumo Rankings for Nagoya Basho
Takanohana (Y, 132) Yokozuna Musashimaru (Y, 13-2)
Chiyotaikai (O, 12-3) Ozeki Musoyama O, 9-6
Miyabiyama (O, 96) Ozeki Dejima (O, 5-10)
Kaio (O, 4-5-6) Ozeki
Tochiazuma (S, 9-6) Sekiwake Kotomitsuki (K, 9-6)
Asashoryu (K, 8-7) Komusubi Wakanosato (M1, 8-7)
Hayateumi (M4, 9-6) M.1 Takanonami (M5, 8-7)
Kotonowaka (M8, 9-6) 2 Higonoumi (M11, 11-4)
Tochinonada (S, 4-11) 3 Toki (M13, 11-4)
Tosanoumi (M3, 7-8) 4 Otsukasa (M8, 8-7)
Kyokushuzan (M15, 11-4) 5 Takanowaka (M1, 5-10)
Akinoshima (M9, 8-7) 6 Tochisakae (M5, 7-8)
Tamakasuga (M4, 6-9) 7 Tamanoshima (M3, 5-10)
Tochinohana (M13, 9-6) 8 Chiyotenzan (M2, 4-11)
Jumonji (M7, 7-8) 9 Kitazakura (J1, 13-2)
Kotoryu (M10, 0-0-15) 10 Kaiho (M6, 6-9)
Kyokutenho (M7, 6-9) 11 Daizen (M14, 8-7)
Wakanoyama (M2, 2-6-7) 12 Aminishiki (M10, 7-8)
Asanowaka (M11, 7-8) 13 Tokitsuumi (M6, 4-11)
Wakatsutomu (M12, 7-8) 14 Oginishiki (J5, 12-3)
Minatofuji (J3, 10-5) 15
(Previous ranking and record in parentheses. Y=yokozuna, O=ozeki, S=sekiwake, K=komusubi, M=maegashira, J=juryo, r=rest)

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