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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hakuho gets in win column

OSAKA (AP) Mongolian Hakuho finally got on the winning track Wednesday with a hard-fought win over Kotooshu at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Mongolian wrestler Hakuho (right) escorts Bulgarian Kotooshu over the straw bales Wednesday at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.

Hakuho, who came into the spring meet fresh off promotion to sumo's third highest rank of sekiwake, got a grip of Kotooshu's belt after a prolonged standoff and flipped the Bulgarian grappler over at the edge to pick up his first win against three losses.

Kotooshu also came into the 15-day meet at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium with high expectations after promotion to komusubi, but has failed to impress so far and dropped to 0-4.

Hakuho, who celebrated his 20th birthday just before the start of the Spring tourney, looked lost in his first three bouts but displayed the poise Wednesday that has earned him a reputation as one of the most promising wrestlers.

Elsewhere, it was business as usual for grand champion Asashoryu, who remained tied for the lead at 4-0 after posting an easy win over fellow-Mongolian and top maegashira Kyokutenho, who fell to 2-2.

Going back to the New Year tourney, where he went 15-0, Asashoryu has now won 19 straight bouts.

In other major bouts, ozeki Kaio was handed his first loss when he was shoved out over the edge after a crushing blow at the faceoff from No. 2 maegashira Kotomitsuki, who improved to 3-1.

Kaio, who was bidding for promotion to grand champion in the New Year tourney, needs a winning record here to maintain his ozeki status.

Ozeki Tochiazuma improved to 2-2 when he forced out Wakanosato, after getting both arms around the top maegashira, who dropped to 1-3.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai deployed his rapid-fire arm thrusts to send Iwakiyama backpedaling over the edge. Chiyotaikai improved to 3-1 while recently promoted komusubi Iwakiyama dropped to 0-4.

In earlier bouts, No. 7 maegashira Tamanoshima and 10th-ranked Kaiho remained in the lead at 4-0 with wins over rank-and-filers Kotonowaka and Shimotori, respectively.

Fan favorite Takamisakari, a No. 8 maegashira, forced out Mongolian Kyokushuzan to improve to 3-1. Kyokushuzan, a No. 6 maegashira, fell to 2-2.

In a showdown of No. 4 maegashira wrestlers, Georgian-born Kokkai was handed his first loss of the tourney after being swatted down at the center of the ring by Tochinonada.



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