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Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2001

Kaio hoping for big win, yokozuna status

Ozeki Kaio, who shrugged off a relegation threat to clinch his third Emperor's Cup in July, will enter the sumo arena from the prestigious East side during next month's Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament as he makes a fresh challenge for promotion to yokozuna.

In its rankings for the Sept. 9-23 tourney released Monday, the Japan Sumo Association awarded the top ozeki position to the 29-year-old Kaio after his triumph at the Nagoya tourney with a 13-2 record. The Tomozuna stable wrestler from Fukuoka would have dropped to the sekiwake rank with a losing record in Nagoya but is now in a position to reach sumo's ultimate rank with another tournament championship at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Yokozuna Musashimaru, coming off yet another runnerup finish this year, will also step onto the ring from the East and is certain to be the only grand champion for a second straight tournament since Takanohana is expected to be sidelined the rest of the year following knee surgery. At ozeki, Kaio is joined by Musoyama on the East opposite Chiyotaikai and Miyabiyama, who needs to win at least eight bouts to keep his rank following a 7-8 record in Nagoya.

At sekiwake, Tochiazuma retained the East position while Dejima will attempt to make an immediate return to ozeki after being demoted to the third-highest rank with back-to-back losing records.

Dejima had been forced to withdraw midway through the Nagoya meet with a viral infection.

Ten wins or more will put the Musashigawa stable grappler back at the second-highest rank of ozeki.

The only newcomer in the prestigious sanyaku ranks -- ozeki, sekiwake and komusubi -- is Tamanoshima, a 23-year-old Toyo University graduate who turned in an impressive 12-3 showing in July as a seventh-ranked maegashira.

The other komusubi, Wakanosato, moved from West to East after a solid 9-6 performance and rounds out the group of sanyaku wrestlers.

The solid and exciting Asashoryu from Mongolia slipped to the top maegashira position after going 7-8 -- his first-ever losing record in sumo.

The autumn tournament will have no new faces in the elite Makuuchi division but will welcome the return of Takatoriki, Hamanishiki and Daishi from the second-tier Juryo division.

Sumo Rankings for Autumn Basho
Musashimaru (Y, 12-3) Yokozuna Takanohana (Y, r-15)
Kaio (O, 13-2) Ozeki Chiyotaikai O, 11-4
Musoyama (O, 10-5) Ozeki Miyabiyama (O, 7-8)
Tochiazuma (S, 10-5) Sekiwake Dejima (O, 3-3, r-9)
Wakanosato (K, 9-6) Komusubi Tamanoshima (M7, 12-3)
Kotonowaka (M2, 8-7) M.1 Asashoryu (K, 7-8)
Kotomitsuki (S, 6-9) 2 Takanowaka (M5, 9-6)
Tosanoumi (M4, 8-7) 3 Tamakasuga (M7, 8-7)
Kaiho (M10, 9-6) 4 Tokitsuumi (M13, 11-4)
Takanonami (M1, 5-10) 5 Tochinonada (M3, 6-9)
Kyokushuzan (M5, 7-8) 6 Toki (M3, 6-9)
Hayateumi (M1, 4-11) 7 Kotoryu (M10, 8-7)
Kyokutenho (M11, 8-7) 8 Daizen (M11, 8-7)
Higonoumi (M2, 3-12) 9 Otsukasa (M4, 4-11)
Tochinohana (M8, 7-8) 10 Oginishiki (M14, 9-6)
Chiyotenzan (M8, 6-9) 11 Akinoshima (M6, 4-11)
Wakanoyama (M12, r-15) 12 Tochisakae (M6, 4-5, r-6)
Kitazakura (M9, 6-9) 13 Aminishiki (M12, 7-8)
Takatoriki (J2, 9-6) 14 Hamanishiki (J3, 9-6)
Daishi (J1, 8-7) 15 Wakatsutomu (M14, 7-8)
(Previous ranking and record in parentheses. Y=yokozuna, O=ozeki, S=sekiwake, K=komusubi, M=maegashira, J=juryo, r=rest)

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