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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Asashoryu retains share of lead

OSAKA (AP) Yokozuna Asashoryu showed no sign on letting up Friday when he overwhelmed Tosanoumi to remain undefeated and tied for the lead with Tamanoshima at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Asashoryu, who won the New Year meet in January with a perfect 15-0 record, quickly went on the attack in the day's final bout at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium and shoved No. 3 maegashira Tosanoumi (4-2) out to improve to 6-0.

The Mongolian grappler has now won 21 bouts in a row and is the odds-on favorite to take home his 11th Emperor's Cup.

In other major bouts, ozeki Chiyotaikai bounced back from Thursday's loss to Tochinonada and improved to 4-2 when he got an arm on the neck of Wakanosato and drove the top maegashira out over the straw ridge. Wakanosato fell to 2-4.

Ozeki Tochiazuma, who also lost on Thursday, got back on the winning track when he spun Kakizoe around at the edge and shoved the No. 2 maegashira out to even his record at 3-3. Kakizoe was handed his fourth loss of the 15-day tourney.

Kaio, who needs a winning record in the this tourney to keep his ozeki status, gave rising star Kotooshu a lesson in basic sumo when he sidestepped the charging Bulgarian, got a grip on the back of his belt and sent the komusubi out to improve to 5-1.

It has been a rough start for Kotooshu, who dropped to 1-5 in his debut at sumo's fourth-highest rank.

Mongolian Hakuho won his third straight bout after losing his first three when he deployed a well-timed arm throw to send top maegashira and compatriot Kyokutenho (2-4) off the raised ring and into the first row of seats.

Hakuho, who was promoted to sekiwake after going 11-4 in the New Year tourney, is starting to show the form that made him one of the pre-tournament favorites to challenge Asashoryu.

Newly promoted komusubi Iwakiyama finally picked up his first win of the tourney when he butted heads with Miyabiyama and swatted down the sekiwake, who dropped to 1-5.

In an earlier bout, Tamanoshima, a No. 7 maegashira, maintained his perfect record when he got both arms around winless Kasugao at the faceoff and waltzed the No. 11 maegashira out in a matter of seconds.

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