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Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005

Kotooshu eyes ozeki promotion

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Bulgarian big man Kotooshu will retain the prestigious east sekiwake slot for the second straight tournament after the Japan Sumo Association issued the rankings for the upcoming Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Yokozuna Asashoryu, who is aiming for his seventh straight Emperor's Cup and to become the first wrestler to win all six tournaments in a year, will once again be a fly in the ointment for the sekiwake as he guns for his career first title and a shot at ozeki promotion at the Nov. 13-27 meet at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

Kotooshu tripped up Asashoryu for a defeat early at the autumn basho and later finished tied at 13-2 with the yokozuna to force a playoff, but was clearly no match the second time around against the more powerful grand champion, who quickly wrapped up another title.

Asashoryu also gains the distinction of being the sole yokozuna for a record 12 consecutive meets, surpassing Akebono's streak -- the longest stretch with one man at the top since sumo's highest rank became officially recognized in February 1909.

Tochiazuma takes up the east position for ozeki after posting a 10-5 mark in September while Chiyotaikai and Kaio find themselves occupying the west.

Chiyotaikai dug himself out of a crater last tournament by notching the necessary eight wins to keep his rank and finished strong at 10-5.

Kaio, who pulled out with a hamstring injury after opening the meet with four straight losses, will match Chiyotaikai for the worst record in sumo as he will be in danger of losing his ozeki status for the eighth time in his career.

It is also the first time that an ozeki has been threatened with demotion in seven straight basho.

Elsewhere, Kotomitsuki regained promotion to sekiwake for the first time in two meets and will sit on the west side.

Kyokutenho and Hakuho make comebacks to the "sanyaku" ranks, the three ranks below yokozuna, in the east and west komusubi slots, respectively. It is the first time three foreign wrestlers have obtained the komusubi and sekiwake ranks together.

Nineteen-year-old Kisenosato, who posted 12 wins at the last meet to claim the Fighting Spirit Prize, has attained his highest rank ever as a No. 5 maegashira.

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