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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Unstoppable Asa claims 12th Cup

Yokozuna Asashoryu overpowered Chiyotaikai on Saturday to win his 12th Emperor's Cup on the penultimate day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Fighting in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Asashoryu fought off a series of arm thrusts and sent ozeki Chiyotaikai over the straw ridge with an arm thrust of his own to improve to 14-0 and capture his fourth straight title. Chiyotaikai fell to 10-4.

With the win, Asashoryu also tied Samoan-born Musashimaru for the most titles held by a foreign wrestler with 12.

"I just tried to focus on today's bout," said Asashoryu. "I was able to maintain my concentration throughout this tournament even after hurting my shoulder midway through and that makes it all the more satisfying."

Asashoryu, the only yokozuna competing in sumo, had a 15-5 record against Chiyotaikai heading into Saturday's bout and displayed the poise of a grand champion after being shoved back at the faceoff.

Asashoryu will be looking to make it a perfect 15-0 on Sunday against ozeki Tochiazuma, the only wrestler to beat Asashoryu this year.

In other major bouts, Tochiazuma improved to 12-2 when he hauled down Hakuho after exchanging a series of slaps to the head with the Mongolian sekiwake. Hakuho dropped to 8-6.

Komusubi Kotomitsuki lifted Mongolian Ama over the straw ridge to improve to 12-2, making it necessary for Asashoryu to post a win over Chiyotaikai in the day's final bout to wrap up the title. Ama, a No. 9 maegashira, dropped to 8-6 but will finish the tournament with an impressive winning record.

In an earlier bout, No. 5 maegashira Kakizoe muscled out No. 9 maegashira Kyokushuzan, handing the Mongolian his third loss against 11 wins. Kakizoe improved to 8-6.

No. 3 maegashira Miyabiyama hauled down Kokkai to improve to 7-7. Georgian-born Kokkai, a No. 2 maegashira, dropped to 4-10.

Top maegashira Roho of Russia turned Hokutoriki around at the edge of the ring and lifted the sixth-ranked maegashira out to improve to 6-8. Hokutoriki dropped to 7-7.

No. 4 maegashira Iwakiyama forced out Wakanosato to pick up his fourth win against 10 losses. Komusubi Wakanosato dropped to 6-8 and will finish the summer tourney with a losing record.

Mongolian Kyokutenho, a No. 3 maegashira, got a hold of Tosanoumi's belt with his right hand and waltzed the sekiwake wrestler out to improve to 6-8. Tosanoumi was handed his 10th loss against only four wins.

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