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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Asashoryu retains lead in Nagoya

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Grand champion Asashoryu remained on course Tuesday to capture his fifth consecutive Emperor's Cup with a demolition of Hokutoriki for his ninth victory at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Takamisakari forces down fellow maegashira Toyozakura for his eighth win at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in Aichi.

Asashoryu showed no mercy in the day's finale Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, never breaking a sweat as he got two hands wrapped around his opponent before waltzing the No. 5 maegashira over the edge to keep the sole lead at 9-1. Hokutoriki fell to 5-5.

Komusubi Kotooshu, former sekiwake Wakanosato and rank-and-filer Takamisakari are hot on the yokozuna's heels at 8-2 with five days remaining at the 15-day meet.

Asashoryu, who claimed his 12th career title with a perfect 15-0 record at summer meet in May, won his second straight after his 24-bout winning streak was snapped by Bulgarian komusubi Kotooshu on the eighth day of competition.

In another key bout, Kotooshu charged full throttle to topple Kyokushuzan for a winning record and stayed in contention after the Bulgarian giant's hand appeared to graze the dirt surface as his opponent flew into the ring-side seats.

It was Kotooshu's first winning record as a "sanyaku" wrestler, the three ranks below yokozuna. Kyokushuzan gave a wry smile back in the dressing room as he dropped to a losing record of eight defeats.

Wakanosato, now a No. 2 maegashira, dug deep to grind out Kaio (7-3) to move to eight wins while the ozeki remained one win from escaping demotion from sumo's second-highest rank after going down without much fuss.

Crowd pleaser Takamisakari snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when he battled back after being shoved to the edge of the ring by Toyozakura (6-4) and slapped down his opponent to pick up his eighth win.

Takamisakari posted his first winning record in a two-and-half years in the elite division.

Ozeki Tochiazuma (7-3) made quick work of Kyokutenho (5-5) with a textbook frontal take out to remain two off the pace.

Local favorite Kotomitsuki, who held aspirations of being promoted to ozeki prior to the meet, was swatted down by Bulgarian Kokkai (7-3) in a matter of seconds to a sixth defeat.



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