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Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004
Asashoryu bags fifth Emperor's Cup
Grand champion Asashoryu dispatched archrival Chiyotaikai for his 14th straight victory to win the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
Asashoryu stared down his opponent at ring side and proceeded to win his fourth consecutive Tokyo meet and first title since last year's autumn meet.
Chiyotaikai, who had a 4-8 record against Asashoryu going into Saturday's bout, slammed hard into the yokozuna, but Asashoryu never budged and charged ahead with a salvo of slaps to shove the ozeki to his fourth defeat.
The yokozuna who was bleeding from the corner of his eye after weathering the storm smiled with elation and pumped his fists as he stood at the ring's edge.
"I was really focused and this led to my victory," the 23-year-old Asashoryu said.
"My lower back was really sturdy this meet and I moved much better than usual. I was able to read my opponents very well. Tomorrow I will continue to give my all," the yokozuna said, referring to the final of the 15-day meet on Sunday.
Asashoryu, who became the sole yokozuna after the retirement of Samoan-born grand champion Musashimaru, will aim to become the first wrestler to win all 15 bouts since Takanohana accomplished the feat in 1996.
Kotomitsuki, who was in mathematical reach to force a playoff against Asashoryu had the yokozuna lost his bout, gave makuuchi debutant Kokkai a sumo clinic, disposing of the Georgian with an emphatic shove out into the front row seats.
Former sekiwake Kotomitsuki, now a No. 4 maegashira, moved to an impressive 12-2 while Kokkai, the first European to compete in the elite division, slipped to 8-6.
In a battle of ozeki, Tochiazuma was in driver's seat all the way as he maneuvered quickly and shoved out Kaio from behind to leave both wrestlers at 9-5.
Ever-popular but struggling Takamisakari riled the crowd with some pre-bout chest slapping before wrapping up top maegashira Hokutoriki with a shove out from behind. The third-ranked maegashira Takamisakari improved to 4-10 while Hokutoriki fell to 5-9.
Elsewhere, Wakanosato posted a winning record by quickly steamrolling out fellow komusubi Tochinonada (5-9).
In an earlier bout, former ozeki veteran Takanonami spun maegashira Kitazakura (3-11) around like a top before tossing him over the ring's edge to move one victory from a winning record.