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Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002

Asashoryu pulls down Tochiazuma, picks up 13th victory of tournament

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Newly-crowned champion Asashoryu on Saturday squashed fellow ozeki Tochiazuma and boosted his chances of promotion to yokozuna with a 13th win on the penultimate day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

The fiery ozeki from Ulan Bator, who became the first Mongolian ever to win the Emperor's Cup when he secured the title on Friday, was given a rough ride by Tochiazuma but prevailed with a clever pull-down to move to 13-1 at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Tochiazuma (8-6), who bounced back from four early defeats to stave off relegation from his ozeki rank, came out strongly at the face-off as he worked Asashoryu to the edge of the ring with a combination of fierce slaps and thrusts.

But Asashoryu weathered the early storm and when Tochiazuma dived in low, the Mongolian spotted an opening and sent his opponent to the floor with a well-executed pulling arm throw for the win.

Ozeki Musoyama warmed up for his appointment with Asashoryu on the final day of the meet Sunday with a comfortable win over struggling sekiwake Wakanosato.

Musoyama (10-4) burst out of his crouch and quickly sent Wakanosato hurtling over the straw bales. Wakanosato slumped to his eighth loss and faces demotion from his rank for the New Year tournament.

In other bouts, sekiwake Kotomitsuki outfoxed sixth-ranked maegashira Tochinonada (6-8) by sidestepping him at the face-off to move within one win of a winning record.

New komusubi and local favorite Takanowaka scored his 10th win of the tournament by forcing out No. 2 maegashira Hokutoriki (5-9) and Mongolian komusubi Kyokutenho (6-8) muscled out third-ranked Tamanoshima (4-10).

Taka to start training

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Injury-plagued yokozuna Takanohana is set to resume training next month in a bid to return to the raised ring for the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, stable master Futagoyama said Saturday.

"He is undergoing treatment and we are hoping to get him back in training at the start of next month," Futagoyama said.

Takanohana's right knee flared up after the autumn meet, forcing him to pull out of the ongoing Kyushu basho in Fukuoka two days before it kicked off.

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