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Monday, Nov. 29, 2004

Kaio defeats Asashoryu on final day

But sumo officials won't consider him for promotion to yokuzuna

FUKUOKA (AP) Ozeki Kaio defeated yokozuna Asashoryu on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday but he will still fall short of promotion to grand champion.

News photo
Ozeki Kaio (right) muscles out yokozuna Asashoryu on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Fighting in the final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Kaio took advantage of a strong faceoff to force grand champion Asashoryu back before lifting the Mongolian grappler out to improve to 12-3.

Asashoryu, who finished with a 13-2 record, defeated ozeki Chiyotaikai on Saturday to wrap up the Emperor's Cup.

"I'm very happy to win this tournament," said Asashoryu. "I didn't perform that well in the last basho so this was a great way to end the year."

Kaio won the Autumn tourney and there was some speculation late Saturday that he may get consideration for promotion to grand champion with a win over Asashoryu on the final day.

Traditionally, a winner of a previous tournament has to post at least 13 wins in his following meet to secure promotion to the sport's highest rank.

Following Kaio's win over Wakanosato on Saturday, Japan Sumo Association chief judge Oshiogawa said that Fukuoka native Kaio could get consideration for promotion with a win over Asashoryu on the final day.

But sumo officials ruled after the completion of Sunday's bouts that the ozeki wrestler wouldn't be considered for promotion to the sport's highest rank and would have to post 13 wins in his next tournament.

For Asashoryu it was his fifth title this year and ninth Emperor's Cup overall. His only previous loss in this tournament came on Wednesday when he was upset by compatriot Hakuho.

Asashoryu, who went 9-6 in the Autumn meet, also became the first wrestler to win five tournaments in a year since yokozuna Chiyonofuji achieved the feat 18 years ago.

Kaio's chances didn't look good heading into Sunday's bout. Asashoryu had never lost a bout after clinching a title before the final day of the tournament.

"I was able to keep my concentration throughout this tournament and that was the key for me," said Asashoryu.

In other major bouts, Mongolian teenager Hakuho, who won the Outstanding Performance Prize, posted an easy victory over Kaiho, to finish with an impressive 12-3 record. No. 13 maegashira Kaiho finished at 10-5.

Chiyotaikai closed out an otherwise disappointing tournament with a win over Wakanosato when he used his trademark arm thrusts to send the sekiwake grappler over the straw ridge.

Chiyotaikai finished with a 7-8 record while Wakanosato stood at 11-4.

Komusubi Kotomitsuki got a hold of Miyabiyama's belt shortly after the faceoff and used an arm throw to send the sekiwake wrestler tumbling down.

Kotomitsuki picked up his 10th win against five losses while Miyabiyama closed out the final tournament of the year with a 9-6 record.

Further down the ranks, Russian Roho, a No. 9 maegashira, used an arm throw to send No 14 maegashira Tokistuumi sprawling to the dirt surface. Roho improved to a solid 10-5 while Tokitsuumi fell to 8-7.

Kotooshu was awarded the Fighting Spirit Prize after finishing with 11 wins, even though he was forced out by Iwakiyama on the final day.

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