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Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Asashoryu hit with 1st loss as yokozuna

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu's quest for a third straight Emperor's Cup took an unexpected hit Tuesday as he was handed his first defeat of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament by fellow Mongolian grappler Kyokutenho.

The spunky 22-year-old from Ulan Bator, who is aiming to become the first yokozuna debutant ever to win the spring basho, looked on course for his third straight victory only to fall victim to a major upset at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu slipped to 2-1 in the 15-day meet and allowed relegation-haunted ozeki Chiyotaikai to jump into the lead at 3-0 with rank-and-filers Kotoryu and Jumonji.

In other key bouts, Kaio, whose ozeki rank is also hanging in the balance after missing the last two meets with an arm injury, scored a second win but Musoyama's woes continued as he was sent to another defeat, this time by crowd favorite Takamisakari.

In the day's finale, Asashoryu appeared to have done enough to keep his unbeaten record in tact as he huffed and puffed in barging top-ranked maegashira Kyokutenho to the ring's edge.

But it all went wrong as an attempted backward leg trip backfired and saw the yokozuna touch the dirt outside the ring before Kyokutenho (2-1) came crashing down on top of him.

It was Kyokutenho's first ever win over Asashoryu in nine meetings between the two.

In contrast, Chiyotaikai deservedly grabbed a piece of the lead as he soaked up an attack from Tochinonada (1-2) before countering with a hailstorm of slaps and thrusts to send the No. 2 maegashira backpedaling out of the ring.

Kaio wasted no time in slapping down Tosanoumi in their 30th meeting to register the second of eight wins he needs to stay at sumo's second rank. He is 22-8 against the komusubi.

Second-ranked maegashira Takamisakari (1-2) milked the crowd with his trademark masochistic pre-bout rituals and then inflicted pain on bumbling Musoyama with a well-worked overarm throw for his first triumph over the ozeki.

Ozeki hopeful Kotomitsuki produced a quick fire win over Wakanoyama (1-2) to improve to 2-1 but sekiwake returnee Wakanosato got dragged down to his first loss by Tamanoshima (2-1).



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