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Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Asashoryu throws out Kokkai

NAGOYA (AP) Asashoryu shoved Kokkai out of the ring and into the audience for his second straight win Monday at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Georgia native attacked Asashoryu immediately after the face off, but the Mongolian yokozuna fought back, grabbing Kokkai's belt and shoving him into the front row of spectators at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Kokkai, whose name means "Black Sea" after the body of water next to his native land, fell to 1-1. The wrestler, who faced Asashoryu for the first time in his career, had been promoted to No. 2 maegashira after going 10-5 in the summer tourney.

Asashoryu won his third straight Emperor's Cup in May's summer tournament and hopes a strong performance in Nagoya will hand him his fourth straight title and eighth overall.

Although he has never won the Nagoya tourney, he is the clear favorite, with three struggling ozeki wrestlers presenting the main challenge to his dominance.

The three ozeki won their matches on Monday.

Chiyotaikai attacked komusubi Tamanoshima with a series of rapid-fire hand thrusts to the neck and then dragged the komusubi face down to the dirt. The two wrestlers had to fight a playoff after their first match ended with the judges disputing the winner.

Musoyama pushed Kotomitsuki out of the ring with a single shove at the neck after forcing the komusubi to lose his balance with a half-successful arm throw. Musoyama, who needs a winning record in the tourney to maintain his ozeki status, improved to 1-1.

Kaio defeated Kotonowaka with a fierce thrust to the chest after the No. 12 maegashira tried to oust the ozeki by pushing hard on his neck. After ending the last tournament with a modest 10-5 record, Kaio improved to 1-1.

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