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Monday, March 13, 2006

Ozeki Tochiazuma starts well

OSAKA (AP) Ozeki Tochiazuma kicked off his campaign for promotion to grand champion with a win over Roho on the opening day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Yokozuna asashoryu throws down komusubi Miyabiyama on the opening day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium.

Tochiazuma, who won the New Year tournament in January, came in low at the faceoff and forced the Russian komusubi out over the edge at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium.

Tochiazuma is gunning to become the first Japanese yokozuna since Takanohana retired in 2003 and will need at least 12 wins in Osaka to be considered for promotion.

In the day's final bout, grand champion Asashoryu of Mongolia tripped up komusubi Miyabiyama to start off on a winning note.

Ozeki Kotooshu of Bulgaria came into the 15-day tourney nursing a heavily-bandaged right knee and struggled in a hard-fought win over Tamanoshima.

Kotooshu, who went 10-5 in the New Year tourney, was pushed back several times and looked out of sorts but eventually prevailed when he shoved out the top maegashira.

Veteran grappler Kaio, in the familiar position of needing a winning record to hang on to his ozeki status, was upset by Mongolian Ama.

Kaio drove Ama back at the faceoff and appeared to have an opening-day win. But the ringside judges determined that Kaio stepped out before Ama did, and awarded the victory to the spindly No. 2 maegashira.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai swatted top maegashira Kokkai down to pick up an easy win.

Sekiwake Hakuho of Mongolia, who is hoping a strong performance in this tourney will earn promotion to ozeki, kicked off his spring campaign on a winning note with a victory over Hokutoriki.

Hakuho, who would need at least 12 wins to move up a rank, wrapped up Hokutoriki at the faceoff and bulldozed the No. 2 maegashira out without being challenged.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki came bursting out of the blocks and bulldozed diminutive No. 3 maegashira Aminishiki out in a matter of seconds.

In earlier bouts, No. 4 maegashira Dejima got both arms around Kyokutenho and muscled the fifth-ranked Mongolian out over the edge for an easy victory.

Futeno, also a fourth-ranked maegashira, forced Iwakiyama to the edge and used a last-minute arm throw to send the bulky No. 6 maegashira sprawling to the dirt surface.

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