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Friday, March 15, 2002

Musashimaru rolls on

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Musashimaru served up another bread-and-butter win over No. 3 maegashira Tochinonada on Thursday to remain perfect one third of the way through the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Ozeki Kaio also chalked up victory No. 5 over Tosanoumi to hold onto a share of the lead, one step ahead of a chasing pack of five wrestlers at the 15-day meet at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

But New Year tourney champion Tochiazuma's chances of a move up to grand champion now look slim after he lost to sekiwake Asashoryu to fall to his second defeat in as many days.

Even with the buildup to the tournament concentrating on the prospects of his younger rivals, Musashimaru (5-0) showed the upstarts that he is still a force to be reckoned with on the raised ring.

The Samoan-born yokozuna wasted little time in brushing past the challenge of No. 3 maegashira Tochinonada (1-4), muscling him out in a matter of seconds.

Kaio (5-0) dodged a bullet in his win over Tosanoumi (2-3). The ozeki pulled out a headlock at the edge of the ring to escape with a victory after the top-ranked maegashira had grabbed the initiative from the charge.

Needing an overall tournament win to secure his berth at the top of sumo's tree, Tochiazuma (3-2) slipped up again against fiery Asashoryu. The Mongolian got all over the ozeki at the face-off and worked inside to bundle his opponent out and pick up his second win.

Also, ozeki Chiyotaikai (3-2) snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against former ozeki Takanonami (3-2).

The Kokonoe stable grappler over-stretched as he tried to shove out the veteran komusubi, who spun away on the top of the straw bales as Chiyotaikai went diving into the ringside seats.

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