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Monday, July 19, 2004

Asashoryu wins fourth straight Emperor's Cup

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu demolished ozeki Kaio to claim his fourth consecutive Emperor's Cup on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu waves to the crowd during a post-Basho interview on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday. Asashoryu beat ozeki Kaio at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium to claim his fourth consecutive Emperor's Cup.

In the day's final bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Kaio never had a fighting chance as Asashoryu got both hands around the ozeki and lifted his opponent over the edge with minimal effort to claim his first Nagoya title with a 13-2 record.

Had Kaio defeated the yokozuna, he would have forced a four-way playoff with Asashoryu and rank-and-filers Miyabiyama and Toyozakura, but no such situation ever arose at the 15-day meet.

The fiery yokozuna from Ulan Bator became only the ninth wrestler in history to win four straight titles and claimed the coveted trophy for the eighth time overall.

Former yokozuna Takanohana was the last wrestler to win four straight titles back in 1996.

"Last year, I had to pull out of the Nagoya meet and it was a huge disappointment so I'm really happy today," said Asashoryu.

"Winning four straight titles was one of my goals but I still have many more for the future," said the 23-year-old Asashoryu.

In other key bouts, Toyozakura (12-3) defied gravity when he was pushed to the edge by Shimotori (9-6) and turn the tables at the last second while teetering on one leg, to shove out the fourth-ranked maegashira.

Toyozakura, a 14th-ranked maegashira, showed exceptional speed and gumption throughout the tourney to claim the Fighting Spirit Prize for the first time in the elite makuuchi division.

Earlier, Miyabiyama depleted all his energy reserves to claim victory over Mongolian Asasekiryu as neither man would give an inch in a brawl of wrestlers at 11-3.

But former ozeki Miyabiyama laid the pressure on thick in a relentless attack of violent thrusts until he knocked his opponent out to finish on 12-3. No slouch, Asasekiryu completed his campaign with an 11-4 record for certain promotion.

Elsewhere, sekiwake Tochiazuma ended his campaign on a dour note at the hands of 19-year-old Mongolian Hakuho, after claiming the necessary 10 wins to reclaim his ozeki rank.

Eighth-ranked maegashira Hakuho was too crafty for Tochiazuma, thwarting his attack with quick moving hands before smacking the ozeki to the dirt surface for an impressive 11-4 record.



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