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Thursday, July 12, 2001

Maru, Kaio still unblemished

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Grand champion Musashimaru took care of business Wednesday by muscling out No. 2 maegashira Kotonowaka to keep his flawless record at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament. Ozeki Kaio also won in convincing fashion and joined the Samoan-born powerhouse as the only unbeaten wrestlers at 4-0 in the 15-day meet at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

As on Tuesday, Musashimaru's win was far from spectacular, but despite a spirited challenge from Kotonowaka at mid-ring, the yokozuna moved up a gear and used his powerful left-handed grip to plow the Sadogatake stable grappler out to his fourth straight loss.

Kaio kept his title challenge intact and, more importantly, got halfway toward posting the eight wins required to stay at sumo's second highest rank by shunting Wakanosato (3-1) to the edge of the dohyo and twisting the komusubi down for the win.

Meanwhile, fellow relegation-threatened ozeki Dejima slipped on a banana skin and bumbling Musashigawa stable mate Miyabiyama flapped and flailed his way to defeat No. 3 as both failed in their attempts to lift the ozeki rank to its second straight complete sweep.

Dejima (3-1) appeared to have taken control of his bout as the ozeki charged Higonoumi (2-2) from one side of the ring to the other but somehow lost his footing and allowed the No. 2 maegashira to send him skidding out of the ring.

Miyabiyama (1-3) slipped back into losing ways after gift-wrapping rank-and-filer Toki his first win of the tourney, while Musoyama (3-1) more than held his own and needed little effort in ushering third-ranked maegashira Tochinonada over the bales.

Chiyotaikai faced little resistance from top-ranked maegashira Hayateumi and some crunching attacks sealed the victory for the Kokonoe stable ozeki, who moved to 3-1 to stay in touch with the leading duo.

At sekiwake, Kotomitsuki clamped both hands on to winless Takanonami's belt to toss the maegashira top gun out of the ring, but Tochiazuma slipped to 3-1 at the hands of Mongolia's rising son komusubi Asashoryu (1-3). Asashoryu has yet to be saddled with a losing record in 15 meets since his pro debut.

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