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Sunday, Sept. 15, 2002

Takanohana dodges bullet to stay two behind Asashoryu

Yokozuna Takanohana managed to dodge another bullet on Saturday by overcoming winless Tochinonada to record his fifth victory heading into the second week of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana, who has missed the last seven tournaments due to a long-term knee injury, came perilously close to a third shock defeat to a rank-and-filer before his trusty right got him out of jail in the day's penultimate bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

Takanohana almost lost the plot as Tochinonada refused to succumb to a two-handed belt throw attempts and nearly tipped the grand champion over at the edge of the ring to chalk his first win of the 15-day meet.

But roared on by a fiercely partisan crowd, the 22-time Emperor's Cup winner's persistence finally paid off as he got behind his opponent to wrench him down from behind for the win.

Meanwhile, fellow grand champion Musashimaru moved to 6-1 but still trails Mongolian Asashoryu, whose dream debut at ozeki continued as he stayed in sole possession of the lead at 7-0.

Musashimaru's bout with Wakanosato (5-2) was over as soon as it began as the Samoan-born powerhouse quickly sent the sekiwake packing with a pair of powerful belly shoves.

Asashoryu, the first Mongolian to reach ozeki, cleverly snuffed out Takanowaka's offensive at the charge and after locking horns at center ring, timed his counter attack to perfection before disposing of the No. 4 maegashira with an overarm throw.

Chiyotaikai was given the fright of his life by Takamisakari but had too much gumption for the winless komusubi and held steady to eke out a sixth win to stay in the title race and keep alive his hopes of a possible promotion to yokozuna.

Musoyama needed to do little more than flex his muscles to see off third-ranked Kotoryu (2-5) while Kaio bounced back from Friday's defeat to move within three wins of the eight required to stay at ozeki by bumping out second-ranked Shimotori (1-6).

Newly promoted sekiwake Tosanoumi snapped out of his funk by yanking veteran komusubi Takanonami (3-4) and halting a three-bout losing streak to improve his record to 4-3.

Former komusubi Kyokushuzan hauled 11th-ranked Daizen down to his sixth defeat while Kyokutenho twisted down fellow rank-and-filer Buyuzan as both moved to 4-3.



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