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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Asashoryu tops prestigious east slot

Fiery yokozuna Asashoryu will be aiming to go undefeated for the third straight basho atop the prestigious east slot as the Japan Sumo Association announced the rankings on Monday for the upcoming Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Asashoryu, who claimed back-to-back titles with an unblemished record at the spring meet in March, will again be the man to beat when the meet kicks off in Tokyo on May 9.

At ozeki, Chiyotaikai, who posted 13 wins and will be seeking promotion to sumo's top rank of yokozuna at the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan, takes the east slot with ozeki Kaio, who also cranked out 13 wins in Osaka, filling the west position.

After staving off relegation last time out with nine wins, Musoyama takes up the east slot with troubled Tochiazuma, who blew his chance of promotion to yokozuna in January and pulled out of the spring meet after three days with a shoulder injury, on the opposite side.

Tochiazuma must post at least eight wins to stay at sumo's second highest rank of ozeki.

Perennial ozeki bridesmaid Wakanosato, who will be making a record 15th straight basho as a "sanyaku" wrestler -- the three ranks below yokozuna -- takes the sekiwake east slot while Mongolian Kyokutenho returns to sumo's third highest rank for the first time in three meets on the west.

After a four-tournament absence in sanyaku, former ozeki Miyabiyama heads up the east side at komusubi while Kotomitsuki drops to komusubi after a 7-8 mark at sekiwake in March.



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