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Thursday, Jan. 24, 2002

Victory makes Tochiazuma perfect 11-0 at Hatsu Basho

Ozeki Tochiazuma got rough and rugged with rank-and-filer Kotonowaka on Wednesday to retain the lead with an unblemished record while Chiyotaikai sent Kotomitsuki into the ringside seats to stay one step back at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Tochiazuma, newly promoted to sumo's second-highest rank, appeared on the defensive against Kotonowaka (5-6) at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, but quickly regained his composure to jostle the No. 5 maegashira out for his 11th straight win in the 15-day tourney.

Meanwhile, ozeki Chiyotaikai and sekiwake Kotomitsuki, with a loss apiece, looked jittery in the prematch ritual before getting down to business.

Chiyotaikai, who appeared to injure his left foot in a loss Tuesday, ripped out of his crouch and unleashed a salvo of thrusts that had Kotomitsuki (9-2) on his heels before the ozeki sent him flying headlong into the ringside seats.

Chiyotaikai, who pulled out of the autumn meet in September and skipped the entire Kyushu tourney in November because of a foot injury, stepped gingerly off the raised ring and limped back to the dressing rooms with a 10-1 record to remain a pace behind leader Tochiazuma.

In other major bouts, ozeki Musoyama (8-3) toppled komusubi Wakanosato (6-5) to ensure himself a winning record for the tourney while ozeki Kaio (8-3) made short work of a sheepish Dejima (4-7), tossing the No. 4 maegashira down like a rag doll.

In an all-Mongolian encounter, sekiwake Asashoryu (6-5) nudged Kyokushuzan (4-7) closer to a losing record in the tourney with a frontal force-out victory.

Komusubi Kyokutenho notched a career-first victory over No. 2 maegashira Toki to leave both wrestlers at 3-8.



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