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Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2006

Hokutoriki plows Aminishiki to win ninth

Surprise package Hokutoriki beat Aminishiki to emerge as the sole leader with a ninth victory while grand champion Asashoryu continued to circle like a shark at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

News photo
No. 11 Maegashira Hokutoriki sends No. 7 maegashira Aminishiki out of the ring on the ninth day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Record-chasing Asashoryu shot down Russian maegashira Hakurozan to remain one win behind Hokutoriki at 8-1, but ozeki Tochiazuma lost his first bout of the 15-day meet after an upset defeat to Miyabiyama.

No. 11 maegashira Hokutoriki was never in danger of surrendering his share of the overnight lead, elbowing Aminishiki (4-5) to the ring's edge before sending him out with a fierce neck thrust.

Meanwhile, Asashoryu, who won all six tournaments in 2005, stayed firmly on course for an unprecedented eighth straight Emperor's Cup at the New Year meet by bulldozing out Hakurozan (2-7) without much of a serious threat.

Injury-plagued Tochiazuma came into the New Year meet with his rank on the line, but he secured ozeki status for the spring basho in March on Sunday.

Even so, he was always on the defensive against top-ranked Miyabiyama (5-4), who dug deep after a mid-ring slapfest and barged the ozeki out.

Elsewhere, newly promoted Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, the only other ozeki still standing in the New Year meet, got both hands on Asasekiryu's belt and promptly marched him out to record a seventh win. Mongolian Asasekiryu dropped to 2-7.

Troubled Kaio (3-6) became the latest ozeki to join the casualty list when he pulled out of the tournament after aggravating a lower back injury and forfeited his bout with Mongolian sekiwake Hakuho (7-2).

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