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Thursday, July 18, 2002

Top three remain tied for lead

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Musashimaru was pushed to the brink of his second loss Wednesday but battled back to capture his 10th win and remains in a three-way tie for the lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Sekiwake Asashoryu and ozeki Chiyotaikai both bounced back from losses the previous day with lopsided victories at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium to stay neck and neck with Musashimaru at 10-1 for the Emperor's Cup spoils.

In the day's final bout, Musashimaru was taken off-guard when fifth-ranked maegashira Hokutoriki (4-7) throttled him by the neck with a stiff and relentless right-hand, shoving the Samoan-born grand champion to the edge of the raised ring.

Musashimaru pounded Hokutoriki backward, but Hokutoriki continued to stick the burly 231-kilogram yokozuna with his pesky throat-grab. Musashimaru then unleashed a mighty blast that sent his smaller opponent retreating over the bales.

In another featured bout, Asashoryu barely broke a sweat as he quickly wrapped up No. 4 maegashira Kaiho with a beltless overarm throw.

The Takasago stable wrestler is expected to need at least one more win in the remaining four days to be considered for ozeki promotion and possibly become the first Mongolian to attain sumo's second highest rank.

Chiyotaikai bullied up on Wakanosato (8-3), blasting the sekiwake into oblivion before he could mount any kind of real defense.

Sixth-ranked maegashira Kotomitsuki, the hometown favorite, was ushered out in a matter of seconds against komusubi Miyabiyama to the dismay of the Aichi partisan crowd, leaving both wrestlers at 4-7.

Seventh-ranked maegashira Takanonami, who had been in contention for the Emperor's Cup until last weekend, slipped to his third loss in four days with a force-out defeat to eighth-ranked Shimotori (7-4).

Kyokushuzan, a second-ranked maegashira from Mongolia who went 10-5 at the summer basho, stumbled to his 10th loss after being yanked down by ninth-ranked Otsukasa (2-9).

Fellow countryman Kyokutenho (7-4), an eighth-ranked maegashira, had to tussle with Oikari before slapping the No. 15 maegashira to his fifth loss.

Withdrawals reach 14

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Top-ranked maegashira Kotonowaka became the latest casualty of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday when he pulled out of the meet with a knee injury.

Fourteen wrestlers from sumo's top two divisions -- makuuchi and juryo -- have sat out during the Nagoya tournament, the largest number of withdrawals since the 1951 autumn tourney.

Kotonowaka damaged ligaments in his left knee in a loss to fourth-ranked maegashira Kaiho on the 10th day of the meet Tuesday at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium and will be out of action for two months.

He will forfeit his scheduled bout against komusubi Tosanoumi on Wednesday, leaving him with a 2-8 record.



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