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Monday, Nov. 18, 2002

Asashoryu extends lead

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Asashoryu delved into his arsenal to blow away No. 4 maegashira Takamisakari on Sunday as the leading Mongolian maestro preserved his unbeaten record on the eighth day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Veteran Akinoshima stayed in touch at 7-1 after shoving out Jumonji but ozeki Musoyama choked on the pressure and was dumped to his second upset defeat by new komusubi Takanowaka in the day's final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Asashoryu, gunning for his first Emperor's Cup, stormed out of his blocks like a raging bull and quickly took control as he throttled Takamisakari (4-4) with a vice-like grip at the center of the ring.

From then on there was only going to be one winner and the saucy 22-year-old from Ulan Bator, making only his second appearance as ozeki, finished the job with a furious windmill of slaps and thrusts to secure his second straight 8-0 winning record.

Asashoryu, the first Mongolian wrestler to reach ozeki, was able to put daylight between himself and his biggest rivals for the title thanks to Takanowaka, who received the biggest cheer of the day by dropping Musoyama two wins off the pace.

Both men steamed in hard at the face-off but Nagasaki native Takanowaka (6-2) spotted an opening and clamped on to Musoyama's right arm to swing him around and steamroller him over the straw bales.

Former sekiwake Akinoshima, currently wrestling as a No. 14 maegashira, extended his winning streak after comfortably forcing out 13th-ranked Jumonji (4-4). It was his 627th win in the makuuchi division and moved him into eighth on the all-time list.

Meanwhile, ozeki Chiyotaikai (6-2) rebounded from his shock defeat to Hokutoriki on Saturday with a hard-fought win and relegation-threatened ozeki Tochiazuma also came through unscathed.

Nagoya tourney champion Chiyotaikai kept his title hopes alive by quickly hauling down top-ranked maegashira Tosanoumi (3-5) at the second attempt while Tochiazuma, who needs eight wins to hang on to his ozeki rank, moved to 4-4 after muscling out winless No. 3 maegashira Tamakasuga.

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