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Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002

Musashimaru on a roll

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Musashimaru shrugged off injury worries to start his Emperor's Cup defense with back-to-back victories after a comfortable win over rank-and-filer Takamisakari on the second day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

However, ozeki Chiyotaikai, considered the biggest threat to Musashimaru's campaign in the absence of injury-plagued yokozuna Takanohana, fell victim to the only upset of the day at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Musashimaru (2-0), wrestling with a sore left wrist, utilized the power of his healthy right hand to bulldoze fourth-ranked maegashira Takamisakari (1-1) out of the ring with little trouble.

Only a couple of well-weighted shoves were enough to convince his rivals that Musashimaru is the favorite to claim the last of this year's six titles -- a career 13th for the Samoan-born grand champion.

Musashimaru extended his career total of wins in the makuuchi top division to 699 after his opening-day victory moved him past Takanohana into fourth on the all-time list.

Chiyotaikai (1-1) found himself rolling in the middle of the ring straight after the face-off after komusubi Takanowaka jumped to his right and put a light touch on the back of the ozeki's head for the win with a rare "sokubiotoshi" technique.

Ozeki Asashoryu (2-0) showed the flair that has elevated him to the second highest rank of sumo, sending fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho (0-2) down to the dohyo surface on all fours after their bout had a brief mid-ring lull following an opening exchange of fierce slaps.

Local favorite Kaio and Musoyama are the other ozeki who kept their clean sheets while Tochiazuma rebounded from Sunday's loss to record his first win of the tournament.

Kaio shoved and thrust his way to a convincing victory over No. 2 maegashira Miyabiyama (1-1) while Musoyama survived a late scare and toppled third-ranked Tamakasuga (0-2).

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