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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Asashoryu keeps slate clean

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu stayed on course for his fifth straight Emperor's Cup with a bread-and-butter win against rival Kyokushuzan at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

News photo
No. 8 maegashira Iwakiyama forces out No. 7 maegashira Asasekiryu to remain unbeaten at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in Aichi Prefecture.

Asashoryu, who won the summer meet with a 15-0 mark, was never in trouble in the day's finale at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium and marched out compatriot Kyokushuzan (1-5) by the back of the belt to keep his share of a one-win lead with rank-and-filer Iwakiyama at 6-0.

Fellow Mongolian Hakuho, former sekiwake Wakanosato and eastern European bruiser Kokkai stayed hot on the heels of the co-leaders with fifth wins.

In other key action, ozeki Tochiazuma and Chiyotaikai rebounded from back-to-back defeats but relegation-threatened Kaio fell two wins off the lead after he was stunned by Bulgarian poster boy Kotooshu.

Chiyotaikai (3-3) stopped the rot with a comfortable win over struggling top-ranked maegashira Kakizoe (1-5) as he tipped his opponent over the ring's edge after a series of trademark neck thrusts but Tochizauma had it far from easy against Futeno.

Tochiazuma (4-2), the only wrestler to have beaten Asashoryu this year, dug deep into his energy reserves after Futeno refused to budge in a mid-ring stalemate and forced his third-ranked opponent out to a fourth loss.

But Kaio, who needs eight wins to keep his rank, left the ring spattered with blood and pondering a second defeat at the hands of Kotooshu, who tore into the ozeki with a head butt and followed through to pick up a surprisingly easy win.

Eighth-ranked maegashira Iwakiyama kept the pressure on Asashoryu but hurt his shoulder after cranking out a sixth win with a frontal crush-out technique over Mongolian Asasekiryu, who slumped to a fourth defeat.

Elsewhere, Kokkai, who hails from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, stunned ninth-ranked Aminishiki with a pair of slaps before pulling him down to stay one win off the pace.

Sekiwake Hakuho dumped Miyabiyama (3-3) into the front row of ringside cushions with a fierce shove while Wakanosato, a No. 2 maegashira, floored fourth-ranked Tamanoshima (2-4) with a beltless arm throw for a fifth win.

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