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Friday, Nov. 25, 2005

Asashoryu nears Kyushu title

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu equaled a 27-year-old record with a classy win over Kotomitsuki on Thursday to remain in total control at 12-0 at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Sekiwake Kotooshu pushes out komusubi Hakuho on the 12th day of action at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka.

Asashoryu, who has lost only five bouts in 2005, matched the record of 82 wins in a year set by former yokozuna Kitanoumi in 1978 in the day's finale at Fukuoka Kokusai Center and preserved his flawless record.

After treating Kotomitsuki to a dance around the center of the ring, he got both arms around the sekiwake and condemned him to fifth defeat with a well-timed overarm throw.

Asashoryu and Kitanoumi share the record with five tournament titles in a year. A victory here in Fukuoka will make the 25-year-old from Ulan Bator the only wrestler ever to win all six meets in a year.

Meanwhile, ozeki Chiyotaikai stayed in touch with the leader at 10-2 after twisting Aminishiki (5-7) down to the sandy surface, while local favorite Kaio was another win off the pace.

His ozeki status preserved after Wednesday's win over teenager Kisenosato, Kaio barely broke sweat in bulldozing out Mongolian Ama (5-7) to join Kotooshu and Tochinohana on 9-3.

Bulgarian sekiwake Kotooshu (9-3) took another major stride toward promotion to sumo's second rank of ozeki, forcing out Mongolian komusubi Hakuho (8-4) at the second attempt after ringside judges could not decide on a winner in the first bout.

In the autumn tourney in September, Kotooshu lost to Asashoryu in a championship playoff but finished with an impressive 13-2 record.

Japan Sumo Association Chairman Kitanoumi has said the 22-year-old needs at least 10 wins this time out to be considered for promotion to ozeki.

Crowd favorite Takamisakari (7-5) was made to wait another day to post a winning record and his defeat to former ozeki Miyabiyama was met with a collective groan from his adoring fans.

The ninth-ranked maegashira could not escape the clutches of Miyabiyama, who bundled out Takamisakari for his eighth victory.

In the lower ranks, Tochinohana continued his impressive return to the elite makuuchi division, forcing out towering maegashira Kotonowaka (5-7) for his ninth win.

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