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Monday, Nov. 12, 2001

OPENING DAY

Musashimaru wins; Kaio, Kotomitsuki upset in Kyushu opener

FUKUOKA -- Yokozuna Musashimaru notched a comfortable win over komusubi Kaiho on Sunday, but ozeki Kaio and ozeki hopeful Kotomitsuki got off on the wrong foot with upset losses at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Samoan-born grand champion quickly disposed of Kaiho, using his towering stature to crush the smaller wrestler to the ring's surface at Fukuoka Kokusai Center and open the 15-day tourney with a win.

Musashimaru, who notched a disappointing 9-6 at the autumn tourney, is still looking for his first title of the year. He made a tentative lunge at the face-off but settled down using his huge arms to mash the komusubi into the dirt for an easy win.

Kaio, who faces possible relegation after pulling out of the autumn meet with a nagging lower back problem, appeared to have top maegashira Tamanoshima on the ropes before his back gave out at the edge of the ring. The embattled ozeki was toppled out for the loss.

Kotomitsuki, the tournament winner in September as a No. 2 maegashira, failed to impress in his first bout back at sumo's third-highest rank of sekiwake, getting pushed out of the ring by second-ranked Tosanoumi.

Meanwhile, fellow sekiwake Tochiazuma, also in line for ozeki consideration, got his left hand inside and seized the belt of Takanowaka to throw the No. 2 maegashira down at the edge of the ring.

Ozeki Musoyama, who at 10-5 was the only ozeki to post a winning record in September, had little trouble discarding Wakanosato, slapping the No. 1 maegashira down in matter of seconds.

Fiery komusubi Asashoryu from Mongolia lashed out at Tokitsuumi with a series of arm thrusts and got a hold of the No. 3 maegashira belts to wrench him violently to the dirt.

Former ozeki Dejima, who has taken a precipitous fall in the ranks to No. 3 maegashira, looked to be heading to a first-day loss to Kotonowaka, but tripped the No. 4 maegashira while twisting him backward for a surprise win.

Also in sumo's premier league, Mongolian No. 9 maegashira Kyokushuzan wrapped up Chiyotenzan and tossed the No. 8 maegashira to the dirt with an arm-twisting maneuver.

Compatriot Kyokutenho, a No. 5 maegashira, tossed out sixth-ranked Daizen to secure



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