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Monday, May 12, 2003

Asashoryu cruises in opener

Yokozuna Asashoryu got down to business with a convincing win over komusubi Tosanoumi but ozeki Musoyama and Kaio fell victims to first-day losses at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Mongolian titan, who failed to claim the Emperor's Cup in his debut as grand champion in March, took complete control of his larger opponent in the day's final bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asashoryu, who largely disappointed with a 10-5 performance last time out, retreated slightly after the charge but quickly composed himself as he moved the komusubi firmly over the straw bales for a two-armed frontal force out and a first-day victory.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai, who with 13 or more wins and consecutive championship titles at the summer meet will be considered for promotion to sumo's highest rank, made short work of komusubi Kyokutenho with a slap down in the day's penultimate bout.

Musoyama and Kaio, however, had nothing to smile about on Mother's Day as they both got off to shaky starts at the 15-day meet.

Top dog maegashira and crowd favorite Takamisakari swiftly took charge of Musoyama, flinging the shocked ozeki to the clay with a sideways twisting throw to beat him in his second straight meet.

For Musoyama, it was an ominous start as he will need at least eight wins in Tokyo to retain his ozeki status after missing most of the spring basho through injury.

No. 1 maegashira Tochinonada was the other ozeki killer as he manhandled Kaio and wrapped up the contest with minimal effort using an underarm throw immediately after the face-off.

Ozeki Tochiazuma, also needing eight wins this time out after returning from a shoulder injury, got a morale boost with a no-nonsense win over No. 2 maegashira Kotomitsuki.

Dejima made mincemeat out of Mongolian Kyokushuzan, blasting the No. 3 maegashira over the edge for the win while fellow sekiwake Wakanosato dumped second-ranked Takanonami with a beltless armthrow.

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