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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2002

Chiyotaikai takes over at top

Ozeki Chiyotaikai knocked a huge monkey off his back by mugging nemesis Musoyama on Friday to take sole possession of the lead at 12-1 in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Overnight co-leader Tochiazuma, however, appeared to have lost his strength along with his stubble as the new ozeki slipped to his second straight loss at the hands of fellow ozeki Kaio with two days left in the 15-day meet at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Tochiazuma, aiming to become the first wrestler in 33 years to win the Emperor's Cup on his ozeki debut, dropped to 11-2 and joins sekiwake Kotomitsuki, who boosted his chances of promotion to ozeki with a hard-fought win over Tosanoumi.

Tochiazuma, who had not shaved until his 11-match winning streak came to an end on Thursday, appeared nervous after making a false start in the day's finale and put up little resistance as Kaio (9-4) sent him backpedaling out of the ring.

Chiyotaikai also started out on the defensive against ozeki Musoyama (9-4) but managed to weather the storm and swing his opponent round and out of the dohyo for only his sixth win in 16 bouts against the Musashigawa stable fighter.

Kotomitsuki almost fluffed his lines at the charge but quickly regrouped to pull seventh-ranked maegashira Tosanoumi (8-5) down to the dirt and score an 11th win that will likely be enough to see the Sadogatake stable wrestler promoted to ozeki for the spring meet in March.

Sekiwake Asashoryu (8-5) unleashed a barrage of slaps and thrusts to send No. 6 maegashira Tochinonada (7-6) packing and secured a winning record.

Former komusubi Kyokushuzan (6-7) survived another day as a top-ranked maegashira by wrenching third-ranked Kaiho down to his 10th loss.

'Black Sea' wins crown

Kokkai twisted down Akiyama to win the sandamme division at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday, securing his second straight title in junior divisions.

Kokkai, 20, whose ring name means Black Sea after the region bordering his home town of Sokhumi, Georgia wrapped up his campaign with a perfect 7-0 record in the 15-day tournament.

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