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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Asashoryu runs winning streak to 24 straight bouts

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu unleashed his fury on Kokkai to maintain his lead with an unblemished record at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Asashoryu had little problem absorbing the burly fourth-ranked maegashira's charge before slapping him forward onto the ring's surface to improve to a spotless 9-0 at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium. Kokkai, who hails from the Soviet former republic of Georgia, slipped to 5-4.

Asashoryu, who is the odds-on favorite to win his 11th Emperor's Cup after taking the New Year's title with a perfect 15-0 record, improved his winning streak to 24. Ozeki Kaio stayed hot in pursuit of the yokozuna at 8-1.

Last year, the Monolian grand champion won five of six tournaments and appears to be on another roll in 2005.

In other key bouts, Kaio got a right-handed grip on the belt of Tochinonada before swiftly dumping his fourth-ranked maegashira opponent to the clay surface to post the necessary wins to keep his ozeki status. Tochinonada fell to 6-3.

Meanwhile, Chiyotaikai was all hot air as he fell in a bout with Dejima while fellow-ozeki Tochiazuma went over meekly in a one-sided affair with sekiwake Miyabiyama.

Fifth-ranked maegashira Dejima, a former ozeki, read Chiyotaikai like a book, letting the ozeki blow off steam with his trademark slaps before stepping aside to see him fly headlong into the third row of the ringside seats, leaving both men at 5-4.

In the penultimate bout, Tochiazuma dropped to his fourth defeat when he was sent immediately over the edge in a frontal shove out by Miyabiyama, who improved to 3-6.

In a battle of struggling newly promoted komusubi, Bulgarian Kotooshu got behind Iwakiyama before getting both hands on his opponent's belt and toppling him over the edge to pick up a third win. Iwakiyama dropped to an eighth defeat for a losing record.

Newly promoted sekiwake Hakuho continued to show little signs of life as he quickly backpedaled after the face-off and was ushered out to sixth defeat by Tosanoumi, who moved to 5-4.

Former sekiwake Wakanosato was sent flying over the straw bales to his fifth defeat by fellow maegashira wrestler Hokutoriki, who sits at 2-7.

Roho, a sixth-ranked maegashira from Russia, absorbed a hard charge from Buyuzan (3-6) before using one hand to shove his opponent out.

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