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Thursday, March 14, 2002

Tochiazuma tossed

OSAKA -- Grand champion hopeful Tochiazuma could not handle No. 2 maegashira Kotonowaka on Wednesday and was thrown for an upset loss four days into the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Tochiazuma's first loss of the tourney left yokozuna Musashimaru and ozeki Kaio, the defending champion in the spring tourney, as undefeated co-leaders in the 15-day basho at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium along with No. 13 maegashira Takamisakari.

New Year champion Tochiazuma, aiming for a second straight title to earn promotion to yokozuna, appeared in control throughout the three-minute match with Kotonowaka, changing belt grips three times to try and get an advantage over the No. 2 maegashira.

Kotonowaka (2-2), however, countered the ozeki grip-for-grip throughout their "marathon" match and then stepped in front of the ozeki's attempted belt throw for his own winning toss from the outside grip on the sash.

In the day's concluding bouts, Kaio made short work of Asashoryu (1-3), shoving the Mongolian sekiwake out of the ring to remain unbeaten, and Musashimaru waited patiently against determined Tosanoumi (2-2) before seeing his chance to push out the top maegashira.

In an earlier bout, Takamisakari, in the second-tier juryo division in January, spun former sekiwake Takatoriki (2-2) around for a frontal force out for his fourth straight win in his return to the makuuchi division.

In other key bouts, ozeki Chiyotaikai got back on the winning track after falling to Tosanoumi on Tuesday, dragging winless No. 2 maegashira Kyokutenho to the ring's surface for his third win. Ozeki Musoyama chased No. 3 maegashira Kyokushuzan out for his third straight win.



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