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Saturday, May 22, 2004

SUMMER GRAND TOURNAMENT

Hokutoriki retains grip on lead

Hokutoriki easily overpowered Iwakiyama on Friday to remain in the sole lead at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Top maegashira Hokutoriki got both arms around No. 6 maegashira Iwakiyama shortly after the face off and muscled his opponent out to improve to 12-1 heading into the final two days of the 15-day tourney. Iwakiyama dropped to 9-4.

Hokutoriki is bidding for his first Emperor's Cup but will have to contend with grand champion Asashoryu, who remained one win off the pace with a solid victory over struggling ozeki Musoyama.

Fighting in the day's final bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena, Asashoryu got a right-hand grip on Musoyama's belt after the face off and lifted the ozeki wrestler out over the ridge to improve to 11-2. Musoyama was handed his seventh loss against only six wins.

Mongolian Asashoryu, who won the Spring tournament with a perfect 15-0 record, is gunning for his third straight Emperor's Cup and is the only wrestler one win behind Hokutoriki.

In other major bouts, Kaio fought off an arm thrust from Chiyotaikai and shoved his fellow ozeki out over the ridge to improve to 9-4.

It hasn't been a good tournament for Chiyotaikai. His 8-5 record to date won't do much to improve his chances for promotion to the sport's highest rank.

No. 5 maegashira Tamanoshima fell out of the running and dropped to 10-3 when he was forced out by komusubi Kotomitsuki, who improved to 7-6.

Georgian-born grappler Kokkai stayed in the hunt when he shoved out No. 15 maegashira Futeno.

Kokkai, the only European-born wrestler fighting in sumo's elite division, improved to 10-3 while Futeno dropped to 7-6.

No. 4 maegashira Tokitsuumi tripped up Wakanosato to improve to 7-6. Sekiwake Wakanosato, who was in the running earlier in the tournament, dropped to 8-5.

Rank-and-filer Hakuho, a No. 16 maegashira, is also two wins off the pace at 10-3 after shoving out No. 11 maegashira Hayateumi, who fell to 7-6.



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