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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Asashoryu retains share of lead

NAGOYA (AP) Grand champion Asashoryu bounced back from two straight losses Friday to defeat Musoyama and remain tied for the lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Ozeki Kaio (left) pushes out ozeki Chiyotaikai on Friday, the 13th day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

In the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Asashoryu got a hold of Musoyama's belt after the face-off and calmly lifted his opponent out.

Mongolian Asashoryu, who is gunning for his fourth straight Emperor's Cup and eighth title overall, improved to 11-2 and is tied with Miyabiyama. Musoyama fell to 8-5.

In other major bouts, Chiyotaikai saw his title hopes dashed and dropped to 9-4 when he drove fellow ozeki Kaio back after the face off but fell out when Kaio stepped to his side at the edge.

Kaio remained in the hunt at 10-3 along with lower-ranked wrestlers Hakuho, Toyozakura and Asasekiryu.

Sekiwake Wakanosato, who handed Asashoryu his second straight loss on Wednesday, ran out of gas and was muscled out by No. 4 maegashira Shimotori, who improved to 9-4. Wakanosato dropped to 7-6.

Sekiwake Tochiazuma fell out of the running for the title when he was forced out by Kotomitsuki, who improved to 6-7.

Tochiazuma, who has looked strong in his bid to get back to the ozeki ranks, attempted to swat Kotomitsuki down at the center of the ring but came up short when the burly komusubi used his size advantage to hand Tochiazuma his fourth loss against nine wins.

Mongolian Hakuho remained in contention for the title and improved to 10-3 after he used an arm throw to upend Georgian-born Kokkai, whose hand touched the dirt surface.

No. 2 maegashira Kokkai, who got off to a strong start in the 15-day meet, has struggled in the second half and dropped to 7-6.

Miyabiyama held on to a share of the lead at 11-2 when he chased Futeno (9-4) around the ring and used a barrage of arm thrusts to send the No. 15 ranked maegashira over the edge.

Rising star Toyozakura, a No. 14 maegashira, picked up his 10th win when he used a series of powerful arm thrusts to the head to send fan favorite Takamisakari backpedaling out of the ring. No. 7 maegashira Takamisakari fell to 6-7 with the loss.

Tosanoumi improved to 9-4 when he shoved out Jumonji in a showdown of No. 11 maegashira. Jumoni dropped to 6-7.

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