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Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2004

Kaio needs at least 13 wins in order to become yokozuna

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Kaio will need to post 13 or more wins at the ongoing Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament to be considered eligible for promotion to sumo's highest rank of yokozuna, Japan Sumo Association Chairman Kitanoumi said Monday.

Kitanoumi said winning the 15-day tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center is not a requisite for the five-time Emperor's Cup winner to earn promotion and join Asashoryu in the yokozuna rank.

"Thirteen wins is thought to be the standard. If he gets 13 or more wins he has plenty of chance," Kitanoumi said.

"It depends on how solid his performances are and how he wrestles, but for me personally 13 wins is a good measure," he said.

Kitanoumi's remarks suggest that even if Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu wins the Kyushu basho with a perfect record and Kaio finishes 14-1 or 13-2, the Tomozuna stable ozeki can still be considered for promotion by sumo officials.

Kaio, who lifted his first Emperor's Cup as sekiwake in 1999, has blown three opportunities to be elevated to sumo's ultimate rank.

A wrestler needs to first be recommended for promotion from the Yokozuna Promotion Council, a powerful advisory body to the JSA, before the final approval by the JSA.

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