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Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

Kotomitsuki wins fifth straight

Ozeki hopeful Kotomitsuki muscled out former ozeki Takanonami in a battle of unbeaten wrestlers Thursday for his fifth straight win and a share of three-way tie for the lead in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Tochiazuma, newly promoted to sumo's second highest rank, and fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai also posted convincing wins at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan to keep pace with Kotomitsuki through the first five days of the 15-day tourney.

In the day's key bout, Kotomitsuki appeared to be the nervous sekiwake as he jumped offside three times before he and veteran Takanonami got both hands down on the ring surface to start the bout.

The overly eager sekiwake quickly marched Takanonami to the edge of the ring off the start, but had to weather a couple of scares as the crafty veteran reached deep into his bag of tricks for some arm throws that nearly toppled Kotomitsuki.

Kotomitsuki (5-0), however, managed to stay upright and bellied Takanonami (4-1), now a No. 3 maegashira, over the edge for the win.

Tochiazuma, meanwhile, had an easy time of it Thursday -- some 24 hours after surviving a bloody slapfest at the hands of sekiwake Asashoryu -- pushing down Mongolian top maegashira Kyokushuzan (1-4) for his fifth win in a row.

Chiyotaikai, who won the New Year tourney as a sekiwake in 1999, rammed winless No. 2 maegashira Tamanoshima out as he bids to win his second Emperor's Cup.

Also, at sumo's second highest rank, Musoyama (3-2) overcame an aching back to force out hapless komusubi Kyokutenho (0-5) and Kaio (3-2) also notched a third win by throwing down top maegashira Akinoshima (0-5).

Asashoryu (3-2), meanwhile, met briefly with Tochiazuma on Thursday to apologize for the beating he administered to the ozeki's face the day before and then backed No. 2 maegashira Toki (2-3) out of the ring after taking a shot to the chin himself.

In other bouts involving unbeaten wrestlers seventh-ranked maegashira Tosanoumi (4-1) was slapped down by No. 6 Tochinonada (4-1) and 14th ranked Tochisakae (4-1) was shoved out by American No. 15 maegashira Sentoryu (3-2) in the day's first makuuchi division bout.

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