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Saturday, Nov. 22, 2003

Asashoryu, Tochiazuma take tumbles

FUKUOKA (AP) Ozeki Chiyotaikai kept his title hopes alive Friday while sending fellow ozeki Tochiazuma to his second loss on a day of upsets at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Fighting in the penultimate bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Chiyotaikai used his trademark arm thrusts to force Tochiazuma back to the edge after the face-off.

With Tochiazuma's back to the wall, Chiyotaikai pulled his opponent down to improve to 10-3, one win behind Tochiazuma and grand champion Asashoryu, who was upended by Kaio.

Tochiazuma dropped to 11-2 but is still tied with Asashoryu for the lead while Chiyotaikai and lower-ranked wrestler Dejima are one win off the pace at 10-3.

Friday's second big upset came when Asashoryu took on local favorite Kaio in the final bout.

Kaio, who secured the winning record he needs to maintain his ozeki status with a win on Thursday, got a hold of Asashoryu's arm at the face off and spun the grand champion around to improve to 9-4.

Asashoryu, who won the Autumn tourney and is gunning for his fifth title, was never able to establish control in Friday's bout and dropped to 11-2 in the 15-day tourney.

Asashoryu is the only grand champion contesting the Kyushu tourney after fellow yokozuna Musashimaru retired on Sunday after suffering four losses through Saturday's bouts.

In other major bouts, Musoyama waltzed out No. 3 maegashira Tamanoshima to move a step closer to nailing down the winning record he needs to maintain his ozeki status for the next tournament.

Musoyama improved to 7-6 while Tamanoshima dropped to 8-5.

Sekiwake Wakanosato slapped down No. 2 maegashira Tosanoumi (8-5) to pick up his sixth win. Wakanosato came into the tournament looking for promotion to ozeki but is now just trying to salvage a winning record.

Mongolian sekiwake Kyokutenho swatted down No. 4 maegashira Miyabiyama at the face off for only his third win of the tournament. Miyabiyama dropped to 5-8.

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