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Sunday, Jan. 18, 2004

No stopping Asashoryu Express

Unbeaten yokozuna Asashoryu blasted out Tamanoshima to maintain pole position at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday while ozeki Tochiazuma took another step toward promotion to grand champion with a sixth straight win heading into the second week of the 15-day meet.

Winners   Losers
Tamakasuga 3-4   Kitazakura 2-5
Buyuzan 5-2   Hayateumi 3-4
Kaiho 4-3   Takanowaka 3-4
Ushiomaru 3-4   Asasekiryu 4-3
Asanowaka 5-2   Yotsukasa 2-5
Takanonami 5-2   Kokkai 4-3
Kotoryu 4-3   Wakatoba 1-6
Miyabiyama 4-3   Kinkaiyama 2-5
Shimotori 5-2   Jumonji 3-4
Tochisakae 4-3   Takekaze 1-6
Aminishiki 5-2   Dejima 4-3
Kakizoe 6-1   Kasuganishiki 2-5
Kotomitsuki 6-1   Kyokushuzan 4-3
Wakanosato 5-2   Hokutoriki 1-6
Tochinonada 3-4   Tosanoumi 2-5
Chiyotaikai 6-1   Tokitsuumi 3-4
Tochiazuma 6-1   Iwakiyama 1-6
Musoyama 5-2   Takamisakari 1-6
Kaio 5-2   Kyokutenho 2-5
Asashoryu 7-0   Tamanoshima 1-6

Lone grand champion Asashoryu, who has looked unstoppable in his quest for a fifth Emperor's Cup, barely broke sweat in the day's finale at Ryogoku Kokugikan as he stormed out of his crouch and pounded the struggling sekiwake out in a matter of seconds for win No. 7.

Tochiazuma outfoxed Iwakiyama while Kotomitsuki, rank-and-filer Kakizoe and ozeki Chiyotaikai all won again to improve to 6-1 and keep the heat on the front-running yokozuna.

With his opening-day upset to Wakanosato firmly behind him Tochiazuma got an early scare when he appeared to get tangled up in Iwakiyama's offense.

News photo
Musoyama pushes out Takamisakari on the seventh day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The ozeki kept his cool, however, and broke free before thrusting the former komusubi over the straw ridge. Iwakiyama dropped to 1-6.

Aiming to become the first Japanese wrestler to reach yokozuna in six years, Tochiazuma must post a minimum of 13 wins to meet the requirement set by the Japan Sumo Association for promotion to sumo's ultimate rank.

Chiyotaikai produced a textbook win as he comfortably dispatched of fourth-ranked Tokitsuumi (3-4) with a windmill of neck thrusts to keep his own championship hopes alive on a day when all four ozeki emerged triumphant.

Musoyama recorded his fifth win by shunting out popular maegashira Takamisakri, who with six defeats has given his legion of fans little to cheer about here.

Kaio completed a clean sweep for the ozeki camp as he retreated from the charge to pull down Mongolian maegashira Kyokutenho (2-5) although looked in pain after the bout after tweaking one of his fingers en route to his fifth win.

Fourth-ranked Kotomitsuki stayed in contention with a hard-earned frontal force-out win over Mongolian trickster Kyokushuzan (4-3) and joined fifth-ranked Kakizoe, who shoved out in Kasuganishiki (2-5), in a share of second.

Komusubi Wakanosato (5-2) emerged victorious in his bout with faltering Hokutoriki (1-6).

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