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Monday, May 26, 2003

Asashoryu wins Summer Basho

The Associated Press Mongolian Asashoryu wrapped up his first Emperor's Cup as a yokozuna on Sunday after Musoyama slapped down Kaio on the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the penultimate bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Musoyama came charging out of the blocks to force Kaio back several steps before swatting his fellow ozeki down.

Kaio, who finished with an 11-4 record, needed to defeat Musoyama and then hope for a loss by Asashoryu in the final bout to force a playoff but couldn't establish control against a fired-up Musoyama.

Musoyama, who came into Sunday's bouts needing a victory to post a winning record and avoid losing his ozeki status for the next tourney, improved to 8-7.

With the pressure off, Asashoryu put an exclamation mark on his title with an emphatic win over Chiyotaikai.

Asashoryu quickly got both arms around Chiyotaikai at the face off and forced his opponent out to improve to 13-2. Chiyotaikai fell to 10-5.

Asashoryu, who was promoted to grand champion in January to become the first Mongolian to occupy sumo's highest rank, had to wait a while for his first tournament win as a yokozuna.

Before becoming grand champion, the 22-year-old Mongolian won two Emperor's Cups but failed to capture one in his debut in March.

It's been a roller-coaster week for the fiery Mongolian.

On Wednesday, Asashoryu was warned by sumo officials to tone down his act after he bumped Kyokushuzan on the raised ring following Monday's loss and then whipped part of his belt in the direction of his fellow Mongolian.

After losing to Kyokushuzan, Asashoryu bounced back with four straight wins before losing to Kaio on Saturday.

In his yokozuna debut at the spring tourney in March, Asashoryu lost to Chiyotaikai on the final day and finished with a modest 10-5 record. He vowed he would be better next time out and lived up to his words.

Chiyotaikai came into the summer tourney with a chance for promotion to yokozuna but his five losses won't impress sumo's hierarchy.

In other major bouts, crowd favorite Takamisakari, a No. 1 maegashira, spun sekiwake Dejima around at the edge to improve to 6-9.

Sekiwake Wakanosato waltzed out ozeki Tochiazuma to finish with a 9-6 record. Despite the loss, Tochiazuma secured a winning record at 8-7 and will retain his ozeki status for the next tourney.

Earlier, No. 15 maegashira Akinoshima conceded a win to juryo division wrestler Ushiomaru after announcing his retirement from sumo.

Akinoshima, who finished with a 6-9 record, closed out a 21-year career in which he went as high as sekiwake and established a reputation as a giant-killer with wins over yokozuna Musashimaru and Akebono.



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