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Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Foreign young guns promoted for basho

Bulgarian pinup Kotooshu will be mixing it with sumo's big guns as a new komusubi after the Japan Sumo Association released the rankings on Monday for the upcoming Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

The towering 22-year-old will head up the West side for sumo's fourth rank of komusubi, a place below Mongolian teen sensation Hakuho, whose 11-4 showing in the New Year meet earned him promotion to sekiwake for the March 13-27 meet at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Hakuho looks like he has got the right stuff to break compatriot and grand champion Asashoryu's dominance while Kotooshu, who went 9-6 in January, has been touted by many as the wrestler to watch in 2005 after a string of impressive performances.

Kotooshu will become the first European wrestler ever to fight in sumo's "sanyaku" -- top three ranks after yokozuna -- and has reached komusubi in just 14 tournaments since making his debut.

His rise to sanyaku is one of the quickest since sumo switched to a six-tournament system in 1958, matching yokozuna Asashoryu and former ozeki Konishiki.

Hakuho, at 19 years and 11 months of age, becomes the second-youngest wrestler in the Showa period to reach sekiwake. Former yokozuna Takanohana was the youngest.

Elsewhere, lone yokozuna Asashoryu, who kick-started his bid to win all six tournaments this year by winning the New Year meet with a 15-0 record, sits pretty atop the prestigious East slot.

Chiyotaikai takes up the East side at ozeki with Kaio needing to post eight wins to save his rank for the sixth time on the West alongside Tochiazuma.

Wakanosato drops to top-ranked maegashira after posting a 6-9 mark in the last tournament. The former sekiwake had been in the sanyaku ranks for 19 consecutive basho.



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