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Monday, Jan. 26, 2004

Asashoryu reaches perfection

The Associated Press Grand champion Asashoryu defeated Tochiazuma on Sunday to close out the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament with a perfect 15-0 record a day after capturing his fifth Emperor's Cup.

Winners   Losers
Harunoyama * 10-5   Wakatoba 4-11
Asasekiryu 7-8   Kitazakura 3-12
Takanonami 8-7   Kaiho 7-8
Kinkaiyama 8-7   Hayateumi 7-8
Tochisakae 9-6   Kotoryu 7-8
Jumonji 8-7   Takanowaka 4-11
Asanowaka 10-5   Aminishiki 9-6
Miyabiyama 11-4   Ushiomaru 7-8
Shimotori 11-4   Kokkai 8-7
Tamakasuga 7-8   Takekaze 4-11
Kotomitsuki 13-2   Buyuzan 10-5
Kyokutenho 8-7   Yotsukasa 5-10
Dejima 10-5   Kyokushuzan 8-7
Iwakiyama 6-9   Takamisakari 4-11
Tokitsuumi 7-8   Hokutoriki 5-10
Wakanosato 9-6   Kakizoe 11-4
Tochinonada 6-9   Toki 1-11-3
Tamanoshima 5-10   Tosanoumi 4-11
Kaio 10-5   Chiyotaikai 10-5
Asashoryu 15-0   Tochiazuma 9-6
* denotes juryo class wrestler

Fighting in the tournament's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Asashoryu spun Tochiazuma around after the face off and sent the helpless ozeki flying over the straw ridge in a matter of seconds. Tochiazuma finished with a sub-par 9-6 record.

Asashoryu defeated Chiyotaikai on Saturday to wrap up the title.

The 23-year-old Mongolian became the sole grand champion after Musashimaru retired during November's Kyushu tournament. With Sunday's win, he became the first wrestler to win all 15 bouts since Takanohana accomplished the feat in 1996.

"Winning all 15 is not an easy thing to do so I'm happy about that," said Asashoryu. "Hopefully, I can continue fighting like this in the next tournament."

Asashoryu entered the New Year tourney as the clear favorite and didn't disappoint. He looked dominant in almost every bout and was never seriously challenged by his top rivals.

It was a disappointing tournament for Tochiazuma, who was gunning for promotion to grand champion, but fell far short of the 13 wins he needed to move up to the sport's highest rank.

In other major bouts, Kaio closed out the New Year tourney with a hard-fought win over fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai.

After exchanging a series of arm thrusts to the head, Kaio eventually prevailed when he shoved Chiyotaikai over the straw ridge to give both wrestlers a record of 10-5.

Earlier, No. 4 maegashira Kotomitsuki, who was in the title chase up until the second last day, shoved out No. 14 maegashira Buyuzan to finish with an impressive 13-2 record and win the Fighting Spirit Prize. Buyuzan dropped to 10-5.

No. 7 maegashira Shimotori drove out 10th ranked maegashira Kokkai to improve to 11-4.

Kokkai, who is from the former Soviet republic of Georgia and is the first European to compete in the sport's elite makuuchi division, finished with a respectable 8-7 record.

No. 5 maegashira Kakizoe, who finished with an 11-4 record, won the tournament's Technical Prize.

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