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Monday, July 25, 2005

Asashoryu clinches 5th title in a row

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Grand champion Asashoryu overpowered Tochiazuma to capture his fifth consecutive Emperor's Cup with a 13-2 record on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu reacts after pushing out ozeki Tochiazuma on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament at Aichi prefectural gymnasium to capture his fifth consecutive Emperor's Cup.

The fiery Mongolian was given an almighty scare by Tochiazuma (9-6) in the day's finale at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium but dug in deep to push out the ozeki after being repeatedly put on the back foot to win his 13th Emperor's Cup.

Asashoryu avoided a possible playoff with Kotooshu after the Bulgarian earlier suffered a defeat to Wakanosato and became the first wrestler in almost 20 years to win five titles in a row.

Former yokozuna great Chiyonofuji achieved the feat in 1986-87.

"I didn't know how things would turn out right until the end of this tournament but I'm really pleased," said Asashoryu.

"I didn't know what would happen but always kept believing in myself and that is why I have got this result. Now I want to keep getting stronger and stronger," added the yokozuna who said he would have liked to get a chance for revenge over Kotooshu.

Asashoryu had only lost once this year before the Nagoya meet but was handed shock defeats by Kotooshu and Kokkai.

Komusubi Kotooshu (12-3) missed out on becoming the first wrestler for Europe to win an Emperor's Cup when he slipped on a banana skin against former sekiwake Wakanosato (11-4).

The pressure appeared to be too much for the Bulgarian to handle and he quickly lost his footing and allowed Wakanosato to finish the job with the simplest of shoves.

"I was a little bit tense and to lose is really disappointing," said Kotooshu.

Elsewhere, Kokkai, who hails from the former Soviet republic of Georgia and was the first European to compete in sumo's elite makuuchi division, wrapped up a solid campaign with a ninth win against sumo clown Takamisakari.

Sixth-ranked Kokkai kept Takamisakari away from his belt with a flurry of blows to the neck and forced him over the edge before flying headlong into the front row of cushions.

Kokkai claimed his first Fighting Spirit Prize while Takamisakari also finished the tournament with an impressive 10-5 mark.

"I'm very pleased. I knew this morning that if I won today I would get the award so I was a little bit nervous but I am very happy to have won it," said Kokkai.

Third-ranked maegashira Futeno was awarded the Technique Prize after claiming his 10th win by default over Kaiho.

Kaiho (8-7) pulled out of the tournament earlier with a fractured bone in his right leg.

"I didn't wrestle today but even so I think I have had a good tournament. I wrestled well and that shows in the results here," said Futeno.

"Hopefully I will continue to do well at the next meet."

Ozeki Kaio's campaign ended on a losing note after he was forced out by sekiwake and local favorite Kotomitsuki.

Kaio came into the tournament with his ozeki status on the line for the seventh time but finished stayed at sumo's second rank after posting a 10-5 mark. Kotomitsuki, however, finished with a 7-8 losing record on his return to sekiwake.

In an earlier bout, Russian maegashira Hakurozan dodged struggling Kotonowaka at the charge to secure an 8-7 winning record on his makuuchi division debut.

Towering maegashira Kotonowaka closed with a disappointing 4-11 mark.



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