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Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005

Asashoryu bags 10th Emperor's Cup

Compiled from AP, Kyodo

Grand champion Asashoryu won his 10th Emperor's Cup on Friday even before stepping into the ring at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu pushes out sekiwake Wakanosato on Friday, the 13th day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. Asashoryu clinched the basho earlier in the day when his closest challengers, Kasugao and Hakuho, both fell to their fourth losses.

With two days remaining in the 15-day tourney, Asashoryu clinched the title when fellow Mongolian Hakuho was overpowered by Iwakiyama in an earlier bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asashoryu joined sumo greats Kitanoumi, Chiyonofuji and Taiho as the only wrestlers to win the New Year meet for three straight years since the establishment of the six-tourney system in 1958.

Komusubi Hakuho, who dropped to 9-4, was one of just two wrestlers who went into Friday's bouts with a mathematical chance to catch yokozuna Asashoryu. South Korean grappler Kasugao was the other but he lost in an earlier bout to Hokutoriki.

Top maegashira Iwakiyama improved to 7-6 when he completely overpowered Hakuho at the faceoff to send the Mongolian teenager over the straw ridge.

In the day's final bout, Asashoryu put an exclamation point on his title with a hard-fought win over sekiwake Wakanosato.

The Mongolian warrior, who needs just two more wins to carry home the New Year tournament hardware undefeated for the second straight year, turned the tables on Wakanosato at the last second to pull off his 13th straight win.

Wakanosato pinned the yokozuna up by the arm near the edge and almost shoved him over but Asashoryu twisted out, ducking under his opponent's arm, before tackling the sekiwake over the edge to keep his record clean.

Wakanosato, who had hoped for ozeki promotion coming into the tournament, fell one defeat from a losing record at 6-7.

"I tried to fight like it was the first day today. I was able to fight my own type of sumo. The New Year meet is the most important tournament so I'm very happy," said Asashoryu.

Asashoryu won five of six tournaments last year and looks poised for another impressive run this season. He is the lone yokozuna currently competing in sumo.

In other major bouts, Chiyotaikai edged toward the winning record he needs to maintain his ozeki status when he used his trademark arm thrusts to send Russian Roho backpedaling over the straw ridge.

Chiyotaikai improved to 7-6 while No. 5 maegashira Roho dropped to 5-8.

Sekiwake Tochiazuma improved his chances of returning to ozeki status when he used a series of powerful arm thrusts to send No. 4 maegashira Kakizoe over the straw ridge.

Tochiazuma improved to 9-4 while Kakizoe dropped to 6-6.

No. 8 maegashira Hokutoriki improved to 7-6 and put an end to Kasugao's slim title hopes when he stepped to his side and swatted the fourteenth-ranked maegashira down.

Mongolian Kyokushuzan, a tenth-ranked maegashira, swatted down Kotoshogiku to improve to 9-4 while No. 16 Kotoshogiku was handed his ninth loss against four wins.

In an earlier bout, Mongolian Ama ensured himself a winning record when he deployed a nifty leg kick to send compatriot Asasekiryu sprawling to the dirt surface.

Ama, a 13th-ranked maegashira improved to 8-5 while No. 11 maegashira Asasekiryu fell to 7-6.

Bulgarian Kotooshu, a fourth ranked maegashira, took a big step toward a winning record when he threw down Shimotori (7-6) to improve to 7-6.

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