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Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004

Asashoryu grabs pole position

Grand champion Asashoryu posted an unorthodox win over fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho on Friday to move into sole possession of the lead while ozeki Tochiazuma notched his fifth straight victory at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

In the final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Asashoryu, who has lost to Kyokutenho only once in the last six tournaments, was locked in a stalemate with his compatriot when the No. 3 maegashira inexplicably touched the dirt surface with his knee.

Asashoryu improved to 6-0 while Kyokutenho fell to 2-4.

Chiyotaikai, Tochiazuma, Kotomitsuki and rank-and-filer Kakizoe all trail Asashoryu by one win in the 15-day tourney.

Tochiazuma, who is hoping for promotion to grand champion with a strong performance in the New Year tourney, took control from the outset and bulldozed Hokutoriki out in a matter of seconds to improve to 5-1. Top maegashira Hokutoriki dropped to 1-5.

Tochiazuma, who won November's Kyushu tournament, needs at least 13 wins here to wrap up promotion to the sport's highest rank. He lost to Wakanosato on the opening day but has looked impressive since.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai remained one win off the pace at 5-1 when he used his right arm to drive No. 2 maegashira Iwakiyama (1-5) out over the edge in a matter of seconds.

In other major bouts, ozeki Kaio bounced back from two straight defeats when he tripped fan favorite Takamisakari up at the edge to improve to 4-2.

It's been a tough tournament for No. 3 maegashira Takamisakari, who dropped to 1-5.

Ozeki Musoyama also halted a two-day losing streak when he got a grip of Tochinonada's belt and used an arm throw to send the komusubi wrestler sprawling to the dirt surface.

Musoyama improved to 4-2, while Tochinonada fell to 2-4.

Earlier, Kotomitsuki suffered his first loss of the tournament and fell to 5-1 in a hard-fought showdown with No. 6 maegashira Dejima, who improved to 4-2.

Further down the ranks, Georgian Kokkai (4-2) was handed his second loss in his makuuchi division debut when he was shoved out by No. 7 maegashira Miyabiyama, who improved to 3-3.



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