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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Asashoryu wrestles control of lead

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu grabbed sole possession of the lead on Saturday after crushing winless Tosanoumi to maintain his unbeaten record on the seventh day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Ozeki Kaio unleashes an arm throw to beat No. 3 maegashira Roho on Saturday at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in Aichi Prefecture.

The bully from Ulan Bator edged another step closer to becoming the first wrestler in nearly 20 years to win five straight Emperor's Cups and moved into pole position after overnight coleader Iwakiyama was sent out to his first loss at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Defeated just once this year, Asashoryu knocked fourth-ranked Tosanoumi sideways with a slap after the "tachi-ai" and sent him crumpling to the dirt with an underarm throw for an easy victory.

Nursing a heavily strapped left shoulder, eighth-ranked Iwakiyama battled bravely against Kotoshogiku (4-3) but could not find a way back after getting worked to the straw bales and was shoved out for the loss.

Georgian hardman Kokkai recorded another lopsided win to cement his place among a quartet of wrestlers including Iwakiyama, sekiwake Hakuho, and second-ranked maegashira Wakanosato one win back.

Elsewhere, it was another day of mixed fortunes at sumo's second rank of ozeki as Kaio eased his relegation fears with a fifth win, Tochiazuma also improved to 5-2 but Chiyotaikai was stunned by baby-faced sekiwake Kotomitsuki.

Kaio moved to within three wins of the eight he needs to save his ozeki rank as he recovered from Friday's shock loss by soaking up an attack from Roho (2-5) and dismantling the Russian with a clever arm lock throw.

Tochiazuma got an early scare before yanking Tamanoshima (2-5) off balance and out of the ring but inconsistent Chiyotaikai (3-4) was outclassed by local hero Kotomitsuki (4-3), who easily fended off the ozeki's trademark thrusts, turned him around and marched him out from behind for a surprise win.

Kokkai bolted out of his blocks and sent 10th-ranked maegashira Jumonji (3-4) packing in a matter of seconds to claim a sixth win and former sekiwake Wakanosato followed suit by wrapping up Kyokutenho (3-4).

Hakuho treated fellow Mongolian Kyokushuzan (1-6) to a tango around the ring and clinically sent the struggling maegashira over the bales.

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