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Friday, Nov. 26, 2004

Asashoryu bounces back

Kaio suffers another setback, falls to 9-3

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu rebounded from a shock loss to grab sole possession of the lead but ozeki Kaio's umpteenth bid for promotion to yokozuna went up in smoke at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.

Stunned by 19-year-old fellow-Mongolian Hakuho on Wednesday, Asashoryu came roaring back against sekiwake Wakanosato in the day's finale at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center and claimed the lead with 11 wins after Hakuho was blown away by Chiyotaikai.

Asashoryu caught overnight co-leader Wakanosato at the center of the ring and after a tricky leg trip attempt failed, he decided to go for Route One sumo and force the sekiwake out with a pair of hard shoves.

Victory moved the bully from Ulan Bator a step closer to becoming the first wrestler since 1986 to win five tournaments in a single year.

Kaio (9-3), who needed to post at least 13 wins to be considered for promotion to sumo's ultimate rank, has ridden his luck in front of his home fans and narrowly avoided being beaten by Russian upstart Roho on Wednesday.

But his luck finally ran out as the Tomozuna stable wrestler choked again. An attempt to pull down sekiwake Miyabiyama (8-4) backfired and the former ozeki countered and disposed of Kaio with a hard throat shove for an eighth win.

Chiyotaikai regained some ozeki pride with a convincing win over Hakuho (10-2), unleashing a flurry of his trademark armthrusts before following through for a sixth win.

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