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Monday, Jan. 24, 2005

Asashoryu closes basho with perfect 15-0 mark

The Associated Press Grand champion Asashoryu overpowered Chiyotaikai on Sunday to close out the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo with a perfect 15-0 record.

Asashoryu, who wrapped up his 10th Emperor's Cup on Friday, knocked Chiyotaikai off balance shortly after the faceoff and then waltzed the veteran wrestler out from behind to remain undefeated. Chiyotaikai finished with an 8-7 record, good enough to hold on to his ozeki status.

With his 10th career title, Mongolian 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-tournament system in 1958.

It was also the second straight year that Asashoryu has gone undefeated in the New Year tourney.

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, Mongolian Hakuho, who won the tournament's Outstanding Technique Award, made short work of fan favorite Takamisakari to improve to 11-4.

With his parents looking on from the upper deck at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the 19-year-old komusubi came bursting out of the blocks and got a hand on the neck of Takamisakari (6-9) before thrusting the No. 5 maegashira over the straw ridge.

Sekiwake Tochiazuma further solidified his ozeki promotion chances when he slapped down fellow-sekiwake Miyabiyama to improve to 11-4. Miyabiyama, who attempted to force Tochiazuma out with a series of arm thrusts, fell to 9-6.

Elsewhere, sekiwake Wakanosato, who came into the 15-day tournament looking for promotion to ozeki, finished with a disappointing 6-9 record after being forced out by Mongolian Kyokutenho. No. 6 maegashira Kyokutenho turned in one of his best performances of late and finished at 10-5.

Bulgarian Kotooshu, a No. 4 maegashira, finished with an impressive 9-6 record after throwing down 11th-ranked maegashira Jumonji, who also closed out at 9-6.

Russian Roho, a fifth-ranked maegashira, swatted down Tamanoshima at the edge to pick up his seventh win against eight losses. No. 3 maegashira Tamanoshima finished at 5-10.

Komusubi Kotomitsuki muscled out No. 7 maegashira Hayateumi but was forced to settle for a 7-8 record.

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