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Sunday, Dec. 29, 2002

Takanohana returns to serious work

Yokozuna Takanohana on Saturday had full-load practice bouts for the first time in over three months in a bid to make a comeback to the ring at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Takanohana, who sat out the Kyushu tournament in Fukuoka last month due to a nagging knee injury, had 31 bouts at the Futagoyama stable amid fitness worries ahead of the Jan. 12-26 meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

Takanohana and his stablemaster Futagoyama remained tight-lipped as to whether he will wrestle in the New Year tournament. The grand champion said earlier this week he "will see how everything goes" for the next few weeks before making a decision.

Takanohana returned to the ring in September after missing a record seven straight tournaments and gained an impressive 12 wins to finish just one win behind champion and fellow yokozuna Musashimaru.

He had surgery in July 2001 after tearing ligaments in his right knee, two months after winning his 22nd Emperor's Cup.

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