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Monday, Jan. 16, 2006

Asashoryu dominates in a flash, stays one back

Grand champion Asashoryu took apart Tochinohana to stay in hot pursuit of front-running duo Tochiazuma and Hokutoriki at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Sunday.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu shoves out Tochinohana at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo.

Asashoryu was all business in the day's finale at Ryogoku Kokugikan and needed only a matter of seconds to dispose of the third-ranked maegashira with a series of powerful shoves.

Asashoryu, who is one win off the pace at 7-1, won all six tournaments in 2005 and is chasing an unprecedented eighth Emperor's Cup at the New Year meet.

Tochiazuma (8-0) sent Mongolian sekiwake Hakuho (6-2) flying out of the ring after a clash of heads at the tachi-ai and was awarded the win as Hakuho's heel appeared to touch the sand outside the ring before both men went crashing into the ringside cushions.

Injury-plagued Tochiazuma came into the New Year meet with his rank on the line, but his eighth win ensured him ozeki status at the spring basho in March.

Newly-promoted ozeki Kotooshu (6-2) also won handsomely, wrapping both arms around top-ranked Tokitenku (1-7) to send him out from behind, but struggling ozeki Chiyotaikai dropped out and Kaio was handed another embarrassing defeat.

Takekaze (2-6) piled more misery on Kaio when he floored the troubled ozeki with a hand pull-down technique and condemned him to a fifth defeat.

Kaio withdrew, citing a back injury.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai (4-4) pulled out earlier in the day after sustaining a chest injury and forfeited his scheduled bout against Russian maegashira Roho (6-2).

Chiyotaikai damaged muscles in the right side of his chest and suffered a cervical vertebrae sprain in Friday's defeat to komusubi Tamanoshima and will need a month to fully recover. That defeat was followed by another loss to Miyabiyama.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki was two wins off the pace at 6-2 after slam-dunking Mongolian fourth-ranked maegashira Asasekiryu, who fell to 2-6.

In earlier bouts, No. 11 maegashira Hokutoriki slapped about Futeno (4-4) before barging out the eighth-ranked wrestler to secure a winning record and stay in a tie for the lead with Tochiazuma at 8-0.

"I think I'm getting in well and hitting hard, and I'm pleased (to get a winning record)," said Hokutoriki.

Colorful maegashira Takamisakari won a huge round of applause after forcing seventh-ranked Kakizoe (6-2) on to his knees with an "uwatenage" overarm throw to collect his fifth win.

"There are still seven bouts to go, and I will focus on doing my best in each and every bout," said Takamisakari.

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