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Thursday, Sept. 19, 2002

Taka hands Asashoryu first loss

Yokozuna Takanohana knocked a pugnacious Asashoryu down a peg with a beautifully executed belt throw Wednesday, handing the newly promoted Mongolian ozeki his second loss in a raucous showdown at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the day's penultimate bout, Asashoryu fired off a flurry of hard slaps at the head and chest of Takanohana in a serious effort to jolt the grand champion off balance at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asashoryu even tried a crafty leg sweep after inflicting more damage at mid-ring, but the yokozuna stood firm as he switched the tables and flipped the Takasago stable ozeki with a one-armed belt technique as the crowd roared with thunderous applause.

Takanohana, back after missing seven meets with a career-threatening knee injury, moved into a tie with Asashoryu and three others at 9-2 -- one off the pace of sole leader yokozuna Musashimaru.

Musashimaru (10-1) had little trouble beating up on fourth-ranked Takanowaka (6-5) in a bout that was over before it started with a frontal push-out.

In an all-ozeki match, Chiyotaikai (9-2) shot like a battering ram out of the crouch and dismantled Musoyama with a flurry of hard slaps and thrusts before mashing him down to the surface.

Kaio (9-2) got down to business with a no-nonsense force-out win over fifth-ranked Tamanoshima (5-6).

Seventh-ranked maegashira Kotomitsuki (9-2), last year's winner of the autumn basho, had to toil at center-ring with Akinoshima (5-6) before wrenching down the No. 13 maegashira by the sash for a convincing win.

Third-ranked Mongolian Kyokutenho (6-5) heard the disapproving boos of the crowd when he used a sneaky slap-down to dispose of top-ranked maegashira Miyabiyama (4-7) as soon as the bout had started.

Komusubi Takamisakari, who had a stellar 9-6 outing in July, was tossed into the ring seats by No. 1 maegashira Tochinonada, leaving both wrestlers at 2-9.

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