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Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Maru keeps on rollin'

OSAKA -- The Musashimaru express steamed past opponent No. 9 on Monday as the grand champion kept his unblemished record with a win over rank-and-filer Toki at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Ozeki Kaio, meanwhile, overcame a shaky start to blast away Otsukasa and stay hot on the heels of the yokozuna just one win behind on Day Nine of the 15-day tourney at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

No. 5 maegashira Toki (6-3) came into the bout against Musashimaru with just a pair of losses but he had never beaten the yokozuna in 11 previous meetings in sumo's elite division.

The Samoan-born powerhouse once again showed who is boss and after locking horns with the No. 5 maegashira at the face-off, bundled him out of the ring to move his record to 9-0.

Otsukasa (6-3) got a firm grip on Kaio's sash at the charge, but the bulky ozeki used his immense power to fling out the No. 5 maegashira with an arm throw.

Defending Emperor's Cup champion Tochiazuma kept up his outside chances of back-to-back titles and yokozuna promotion with an easy win over No. 3 maegashira Kyokushuzan (1-8), quickly dismissing the Mongolian with a sharp series of thrusts.

The ozeki cannot afford another slip-up after a couple of losses in the first week and remains tied with No. 11 maegashira Takanowaka on 7-2.

After four losses in the early stages, ozeki hopeful Kotomitsuki will probably have to wait a bit longer to move up to sumo's second highest rank but got one over Mongolian Asashoryu (5-4) in a match-up between sekiwake.

Kotomitsuki brushed off the thrusts of the fiery Mongolian and then dumped him out of the raised ring for his fifth win.

Elsewhere, ozeki Musoyama (6-3), who only decided to continue competing in the morning after suffering a shoulder injury in his loss to Takanonami the previous day, had little trouble in overpowering No. 2 maegashira Kotonowaka (3-6).

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