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Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006

Asashoryu, Kotooshu still on track after victories

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu and newly promoted Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu improved their records with comfortable wins at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

News photo
Sekiwake Hakuho takes the arm of komusubi Tamanoshima and forces him out of the ring at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asashoryu barely broke sweat in barging third-ranked maegashira Takekaze out of the ring in a matter of seconds for his second straight win after suffering an upset defeat at the hands of Kokkai on the second day.

Asashoryu, who is aiming for an unprecedented eighth straight Emperor's Cup, is one win behind the four early co-leaders in the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Takekaze dropped to 1-3.

Kotooshu matched Asashoryu at 3-1 after slapping down No. 3 maegashira Tochinohana (1-3), whose defensive tactics kept the ozeki at bay early on but eventually was caught off-balance and crumbled down to the surface in the middle of the ring.

Tochiazuma came within four wins of retaining his ozeki rank following a tactically superb bout that prevented Russian No. 2 maegashira Roho from holding the belt en route to a force-out victory. Tochiazuma stayed perfect at 4-0 while Roho is 3-1.

Fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai (3-1) did not repeat his mistake in Tuesday's loss to Takekaze, unleashing a relentless string of slaps to the chest of Hakurozan (1-3) straight from the face-off and forced the Russian No. 4 maegashira over the straw ridge.

Veteran ozeki Kaio, wrestling with a lower back injury, was unable to withhold an initial charge by No. 2 maegashira Kokkai and backpedaled out of the ring in a lopsided bout. Georgian Kokkai, who upset Asashoryu on Monday, improved to 2-2.

Sekiwake returnee Hakuho extended his winning streak to four with an easy win over winless komusubi Tamanoshima, who was dragged down onto the dirt by the Mongolian's powerful arm-lock technique.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki bounced back from his loss Tuesday to pick up his third win with a belt-grip twist that sent Mongolian-born komusubi Kyokutenho to his fourth defeat in a row.

In other bouts, crowd favorite Takamisakari evened his record to 2-2 against veteran Kyokushuzan (2-2).

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