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Monday, July 7, 2003

Musashimaru returns in style

NAGOYA (AP) Grand champion Musashimaru made a successful return to the ring on Sunday with a hard-fought victory over Mongolian Kyokutenho on the first day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Musashimaru, who had surgery on his left wrist last November, was forced to sit out the last four tournaments because of the injury.

The Hawaiian grappler got off to a shaky start and was shoved back to the edge several times by sekiwake Kyokutenho in the penultimate bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

But Musashimaru held his ground and eventually prevailed when the Mongolian lost his footing near the straw ridge.

Musashimaru, 32, is one of the most successful foreign-born wrestlers ever in sumo. He was the second to reach the ancient sport's highest rank, and has won 12 tournaments, more than any other wrestler currently in the ring.

In Sunday's final bout, Asashoryu, seeking his second straight Emperor's Cup and fourth title overall, had little trouble with komusubi Tochinonada.

The Mongolian grand champion turned Tochinonada around shortly after the face off and then tripped him down to the dirt for the victory.

In other major bouts, ozeki Chiyotaikai, looking to bounce back from a sub-par 10-5 record last time out, got off to a winning start in the 15-day tourney by shoving out top maegashira Aminishiki shortly after the face off.

Ozeki Kaio, runnerup in the summer tourney, spun Miyabiyama around with an attempted arm throw and then deployed a powerful arm thrust to send the top maegashira toppling off the raised ring.

Ozeki Musoyama got both arms around Mongolian Kyokushuzan and waltzed the No. 2 maegashira out in a matter of seconds for an easy win.

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