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Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002

Asashoryu smothers Gojoro, pulls away from nearest rivals

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Asashoryu blasted his way to another quick-fire win on Monday as the Mongolian hot shot toppled No. 4 maegashira Gojoro to remain the unbeaten leader on the ninth day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo tournament.

Asashoryu's ninth straight win moved him two clear of closest challengers and three ahead of ozeki rival Musoyama, who slumped to his second straight upset loss -- this time at the hands of top-ranked maegashira Takanonami at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Former ozeki Takanonami sits two wins off the pace along with fellow veteran Akinoshima, who allowed Asashoryu breathing space at the top of the leaderboard after going down to Asanowaka.

In the day's penultimate bout, Asashoryu put on another sumo clinic as he smothered Gojoro (3-6) at the charge and secured a solid two-handed grip on his opponent's belt before flipping him over with a perfectly executed twisting backward knee trip.

Musoyama had the chance to boost his record to 7-2 in his bout with Takanonami and stay in touch with the leader, but got tangled up in his opponents attack, twisted around and swung out of the ring with an arm-lock throw.

Ozeki Tochiazuma (5-4) put his disastrous start to the tournament behind him as he overcame sekiwake Wakanosato (3-6) and eased his relegation worries with a fourth straight win.

Tochiazuma, who missed the autumn meet, needs to win at least three of his six remaining bouts to hang on to sumo's second highest rank.

Earlier, makuuchi-division elder statesman Akinoshima (7-2), a 14th-ranked maegashira, saw his surprise winning run come to a halt when he was twisted down by 15th-ranked Asanowaka (4-5) in the day's opening bout in the top flight.

Chiyotaikai pulls out

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Chiyotaikai pulled out of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament after damaging muscles in his upper right arm and will need at least 10 weeks to recover from the injury, stable master Kokonoe said Monday.

"We had a look at Chiyotaikai this morning and decided that he is in no condition to wrestle. He is more disappointed than anyone about this but there is nothing we can do about it," said Kokonoe.

Chiyotaikai underwent tests at a Fukuoka hospital on Sunday evening after he sustained the injury in a bout with top-ranked maegashira Tosanoumi.

It is the first time Nagoya champion Chiyotaikai has withdrawn from a meet since last year's Kyushu tourney and seventh overall.

He forfeit Monday's scheduled bout with No. 3 maegashira Tamakasuga, leaving the 26-year-old ozeki with a 6-3 record for the tourney.

Chiyotaikai is the latest big name to be sidelined through injury at the 15-day basho at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.



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