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Sunday, March 24, 2002

DAY 14

Musashimaru wins basho

Captures 10th career Emperor's Cup

OSAKA -- Yokozuna Musashimaru slapped down ozeki Chiyotaikai for his 13th win of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday and ensured himself the championship with one day remaining in the 15-day event.

Musashimaru, who has cruised to a 13-1 record at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, wins the Emperor's Cup and the rest of the championship hardware for the 10th time in his career.

The Samoan-born grand champion is now tied for eighth on the all-time list of Emperor's Cup winners and his next championship will bring him even with former yokozuna Akebono.

Musashimaru pulls down Chiyotaikai to take the crown.

Legendary yokozuna Taiho tops the list with 32 championships.

"My goal has always been to win about 10 championships," said Musashimaru, who made his sumo debut in 1989.

He reached the elite makuuchi division in November 1991 and won his first championship in July 1994.

"I have been able to anticipate (my) opponents' movements without any trouble in this tournament," Musashimaru said in a post-match interview.

"Winning championships hasn't been that easy, but I'll keep trying my best and hope that I can win a few more," he added.

In Saturday's final bout, Musashimaru was unfazed by the early frenzied attack of Chiyotaikai and started forcing the ozeki back to the edge of the ring, where he slapped him down for an easy win and the championship.

Chiyotaikai, who is suffering from a sore back, fell to 7-7 and needs a win against Musoyama on Sunday to avoid a losing record for the tournament.

Kaio, one of three wrestlers entering the day with slim championship hopes, notched his 11th win when fellow ozeki Tochiazuma (9-5) slipped and fell onto the dohyo's sandy surface.

In other bouts, sekiwake Asashoryu (10-4) got the angle on Aminishiki (10-4) and knocked the No. 4 maegashira out of title contention with a force-out from the side.

Kotomitsuki (8-6), needing a win to hang onto his sekiwake rank, crossed up Takanowaka (10-4) with a jump to the right at the face-off and marched the No. 11 maegashira out of the ring and out of the race.

Ozeki Musoyama won the nod of the ringside judges as he tumbled out of the ring with komusubi Wakanosato (8-6) for his ninth win.

Mongolia's Kyokutenho (5-9) appeared headed out of the ring against Tamakasuga (7-7) but uncorked a belt throw for the win, but compatriot Kyokushuzan (1-13) gave little resistance and was walked out by Hamanishiki (6-8).

Earlier, former "ssirum" (Korean sumo) champion Kasugao, top-ranked in the makushita junior division, was muscled out by No. 13 juryo Hokutoiwa for his fourth loss of the tourney and narrowly missed becoming the first full-fledged sumo wrestler from South Korea.

Wrestlers in sumo's four junior divisions compete in only seven bouts during the 15-day tournament and Kasugao's 3-4 record means he will take a dip in the makushita rankings for the summer tournament in May.

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