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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Yokozuna hopeful Tochiazuma crashes to first loss

OSAKA (Kyodo) Tochiazuma's hopes of promotion to grand champion suffered a major setback after the ozeki was handed a shock defeat to Aminishiki on the second day of action at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

News photo
Aminishiki muscles down Ozeki Tochiazuma on the second day of action at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.

Tochiazuma (1-1) twice came close to finishing off Aminishiki in an entertaining bout at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium but the stubborn third-ranked maegashira simply refused to throw in the towel.

After being worked against the straw bales Aminishinki came roaring back and with Tochiazuma appearing to run out of steam, he yanked the ozeki down by the arm to score the upset win, his first of the meet.

Tochiazuma, aiming to become the first Japanese yokozuna since former great Takanohana retired in 2003, is chasing promotion for the third time.

But he cannot afford to lose any more bouts here as he will need to win the championship title or post at least 13 wins to be considered worthy of a place at sumo's summit.

In the day's final match-up, grand champion Asashoryu made it two wins out of two to hold a share of the lead after chasing out fellow Mongolian Ama (1-1).

In other key matches, relegation-threatened Kaio rebounded to see off second-ranked Hokutoriki (0-2) with a series of neck thrusts to notch his first win.

Struggling fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai (2-0) whose rank is also on the line here for a record ninth time, eased demotion fears by thrusting out newly promoted komusubi Roho of Russia, who dropped to 0-2.

Kotooshu (1-1), who impressed with a 10-5 record on his ozeki debut in January, was the day's other major upset victim, the out-of-sorts Bulgarian getting easily shoved out by Miyabiyama (1-1).

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