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Saturday, July 13, 2002

Triumvirate stays unbeaten

NAGOYA (Kyodo) The past, present and possible future of the ozeki rank posted convincing wins Friday to remain the unbeaten leaders six days into the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Former ozeki Takanonami pried out Aminishiki, incumbent ozeki Chiyotaikai rammed out Takanowaka and ozeki hopeful Asashoryu marched Takamisakari out of the ring at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium to remain a step ahead of yokozuna Musashimaru, in hot pursuit with win No. 5.

Chiyotaikai, the only ozeki left in the tourney after injuries forced out Kaio, Tochiazuma and Musoyama, preserved the pride of sumo's second highest rank by bulldozing Takanowaka (3-3) to the bales and shoving the No. 4 maegashira out for an easy win.

No. 7 maegashira Takanonami, trying to rebound from an injury slide down the rankings, tied up the right arm of Aminishiki (2-4) with his familiar old wrap-around grip and then levered the fifth-ranked grappler out.

Sekiwake Asashoryu, bidding for promotion to the ozeki rank, straight-armed Takamisakari (2-4) to the edge of the ring with a grab at the No. 2 maegashira's throat.

Unable to expel him from the ring, Asashoryu came back with a huge slap across the face that turned Takamisakari's head and created an opening for the Mongolian sekiwake to take belt control and march his opponent out of the ring.

Asashoryu, who has gone 11-4 in the previous two tournaments, needs another 11 or 12 wins to be considered for promotion to ozeki.

Earlier, No. 14 maegashira Buyuzan, who had come to the gymnasium as one of the tournament co-leaders, was sent to his first loss by Tokitsuumi (2-4), who tripped up the Musashigawa stable hope with a belt throw.

In the day's final bout, Musashimaru had his hands full against upset-minded Kotonowaka (1-5) but dropped the top maegashira at the ring's edge for his fifth win after a long tussle for belt control.

Kyokutenho and Kotomitsuki mirrored each other with belt throws at the edge of the ring, but the No. 8 maegashira from Mongolia fell on top of the sixth-ranked former sekiwake for the win.



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