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Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006

Asashoryu suffers loss

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu fell to a first defeat at the hands of Kokkai on Monday while newly promoted Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu brushed aside an opening day loss, disposing of Takekaze at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
No. 2 Maegashira Kokkai drops yokozuna Asashoryu to the ground at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Monday.

In the day's finale, Georgian No. 2 maegashira Kokkai got his hands on the yokozuna's belt and ushered him to the ring's edge before toppling him over with a strong one-handed shove to the chest, causing the crowd to erupt in cheers at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

"After I got my hands on his belt I just kept moving forward. That's all I could think about," said Kokkai, who improved to 1-1.

Asashoryu, who is gunning for an unprecedented eighth straight title after winning all six basho last year, slipped to 1-1 and with the upset has put himself in a tie one off the pace with Kotooshu, leaving the 15-day competition up for grabs after only the second day of action.

Kotooshu (1-1), who was promoted to sumo's second-highest rank after the Kyushu meet last November, took control from start to finish, charging out of the crouch before ramming his No. 3 maegashira opponent into the ringside seats. Takekaze slipped to 0-2.

The 203-cm wrestler, who reached ozeki in just 19 meets, appears to have regained his focus after his defeat to Russian Roho on Sunday and has high expectations to stay in contention in the title race in a showdown with the yokozuna this time out.

In other key bouts, Chiyotaikai (2-0) steamrolled over Tochinohana (0-2) with a salvo of thrusts and slaps to stay on the pace in a share of the lead while fellow ozeki Tochiazuma (2-0) bulldozed komusubi Tamanoshima (0-2) in a matter of seconds to move a step closer to easing his relegation worries.

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