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Friday, May 24, 2002

Musashimaru closes in on 11th title

Yokozuna Musashimaru would not be fooled by the antics of Asashoryu on Thursday as he remained the only undefeated wrestler and moved to within one win of notching his 11th Emperor's Cup at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Samoan-born grand champion was not to be intimidated when Asashoryu tried a pre-match stare down at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan in the day's featured bout and then coolly ushered the fiery Mongolian sekiwake out for his 12th straight win of the tourney.

Asashoryu (8-4), who spoiled Musashimaru's perfect record in the spring basho in March, reached down to try a single-leg takedown right out of high school wrestling textbooks against the yokozuna at the faceoff.

Musashimaru, a high school wrestling champion from Hawaii, however, was keen to the move and wrapped up the sekiwake's arms to block the tackle and then moved quickly to a more conventional frontal force-out for an easy win.

With Musashimaru's nearest pursuers at 9-3, one more win over the final three days of the 15-day meet will give the Musashigawa stable grand champion his second straight makuuchi division championship and his 11th overall.

In the ozeki ranks, Musoyama rattled Kyokushuzan (8-4) with a throat-grab after the faceoff and quickly shoved the No. 10 maegashira over the straw bales to notch his ninth win of the tourney.

Tochiazuma got his left hand in for leverage on Dejima's sash and used his burly chest to blast the No. 9 maegashira and former ozeki backward into the ring seats. Both wrestlers stand at 9-3.

Chiyotaikai (9-3) tried to power Kaio (8-4) out with a violent throat-grab at the face-off but the Tomozuna ozeki was too savvy, quickly deflecting the blow and barreling his ozeki rival out in seconds.

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