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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2001


Musashimaru express rolls on

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Grand champion Musashimaru took care of business with a hard-earned win over Mongolian maegashira Kyokutenho on Monday to grab sole possession of the lead at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Samoan-born powerhouse boosted his chances of lifting his first Emperor's Cup of 2001 by stretching his unblemished record to 9-0 while rank-and-filer Hayateumi crashed out of the lead at the hands of Takanonami at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Hayateumi, former ozeki Takanonami and ozeki hopeful Tochiazuma, however, all stayed in contention for the championship with eight wins against one loss to remain at the heels of the front-running yokozuna in the 15-day meet.

Meanwhile, things went from bad to worse for hometown favorite Kaio as the one-time yokozuna hopeful, currently trying to stave off relegation from his ozeki rank, was sent hurtling out of the ring by No. 3 maegashira Dejima (4-5).

Kaio slipped to 5-4 and needs at least three more wins over the next six days to retain his rank for the New Year tourney in Tokyo.

Musoyama, the only other ozeki representative in Fukuoka, made short work of Toki, barging the No. 7 maegashira out of the ring to leave both wrestlers on 6-3.

In a battle of sekiwake seeking promotion to sumo's second-highest rank, Tochiazuma quickly bounced back from Sunday's loss to Toki, dragging Kotomitsuki (4-5) down and spoiling the autumn champion's own hopes of climbing one rung up the "sanyaku" ladder.

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