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Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Leading duo suffer first losses in Nagoya

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian ozeki hopeful Asashoryu was given a sumo lesson by veteran Takanonami and ozeki Chiyotaikai was blown away by komusubi Tosanoumi on Tuesday as the overnight leaders crashed to their first defeats of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

The losses allowed grand champion Musashimaru to grab a share of the lead at 9-1 as the Samoa-born giant manhandled No. 6 maegashira Kotomitsuki for a sixth straight win in the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu came out with all guns blazing at the charge but was thrown off balance after an attempted leg trip backfired and allowed seventh-ranked Takanonami (8-2) to bump the fiery sekiwake over the straw ridge and squash him onto the dirt surface.

Asashoryu still needs to win at least two of his five remaining bouts in the 15-day meet to stand a chance of becoming the first Mongolian wrestler to be promoted to sumo's second highest rank of ozeki.

Despite a promising start, Chiyotaikai, runnerup at the New Year meet, was unable to capitalize and put himself one win clear of his nearest rivals after being handed a shock defeat to Tosanoumi (5-5).

The burly ozeki charged out of his crouch like a raging bull, smothering Tosanoumi with a hailstorm of slaps and thrusts only to give the komusubi an opening that allowed Tosanoumi to lunge back and drive the shocked ozeki out for a well-deserved victory.

Musashimaru, unfazed by the strong vocal support for local favorite Kotomitsuki, barely broke sweat as the 231-kg yokozuna sent Aichi's pride and joy packing to re-ignite his challenge for a third straight Emperor's Cup.

Further down the rankings, Mongolian maegashira Kyokutenho (6-4) was forced to do the splits on the edge of the ring and limped off to the dressing room after being bundled out by second-ranked Takamisakari (6-4).

Kyokushuzan was quickly sent crashing to his ninth loss of the meet by Aminishiki.

Another one pulls out

NAGOYA (Kyodo) No. 6 maegashira Tamakasuga withdrew from the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday with a leg infection similar to the one that sidelined 10th-ranked Tochisakae over the weekend.

It is the first time that Tamakasuga, a 30-year-old wrestler from the Kataonami stable who has gone as high as sekiwake in the rankings, has pulled out of a tournament since starting in professional sumo in January 1994.

Tamakasuga is also the 13th wrestler in the top two divisions -- juryo and makuuchi -- to miss all or part of the Nagoya tourney, equaling the 13 top wrestlers who missed the 1957 Kyushu Basho.

Tochisakae, who pulled out of the tourney Saturday after coming down with a high fever due to a leg inflammation, decided Monday to return to the raised ring Wednesday after the fever had subsided.



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