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Friday, Jan. 13, 2006

Kokkai hands Kotooshu second defeat

Giant-killer Kokkai of Georgia claimed another scalp Thursday when he bashed up Kotooshu to condemn the newly promoted ozeki to his second defeat at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Georgia's No. 2 maegashira Kokkai unleashes a neck throw to ozeki Kotooshu to hand him second loss of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

There was no such surprise in store for record-hungry yokozuna Asashoryu, however, as the fiery Mongolian outclassed Russian Roho in the day's finale at Ryogoku Kokugikan to sit one win off the early pace at 4-1.

Injury-plagued ozeki Tochiazuma further eased relegation fears with a win over Kyokutenho (0-5) and shares the lead at 5-0 with Mongolian Hakuho, and rank-and-filers Hokutoriki and Tokitsuumi.

Asashoryu, stunned by Kokkai on Monday, put on a sumo clinic and after breaking free from a midring stalemate, dumped Roho (3-2) in the front row of ringside cushions with a clinical two-handed leg tip-over technique.

Asashoryu won all six titles last year and remains the hot favorite to clinch an unprecedented eighth straight Emperor's Cup here but Kotooshu was left dazed after his title hopes were hit with another reverse.

Fresh from his victory over Kaio on Wednesday, second-ranked Kokkai, whose ring name means Black Sea, steamed into Kotooshu and repeatedly yanked at the ozeki in a fierce battle between eastern European wrestlers.

Kokkai stood firm and added Kotooshu to his list of victims when he finished him off with a twisting head throw to leave both men with 3-2 records.

In other key bouts, Tochiazuma turned the tables on Kyokutenho to retain his share of the lead and move within three wins of the eight he needs to retain his rank, while Kaio rebounded from Wednesday's loss and forced out winless komusubi Tamanoshima to post a second win.

Chiyotaikai needed to do little more than flex his muscles to see off Mongolian No. 1 maegashira Tokitenku (1-4) to complete a triumphant day for Japanese ozeki.

Mongolian Hakuho produced a quick-fire force-out over Russian No. 4 maegashira Hakurozan to preserve his flawless record, 14th-ranked Tokitsuumi made it five wins out of five by overpowering Katayama (1-4) and 11th-ranked Hokutoriki ousted Tosanoumi (3-2).

Kotomitsuki (3-2) was unable to match sekiwake teammate Hakuho's performance and was hauled down to a second defeat at the hands of former ozeki Miyabiyama (2-3).

Earlier, former amateur grand champion Yoshikaze finally got in the winning column on his top flight debut as he barged out Kyokushuzan (2-3).

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