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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hakuho turns quartet into quintet

Newly promoted Mongolian ozeki Hakuho will make his elite debut at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, bringing the total number of wrestlers occupying sumo's second-highest rank to five at the 15-day tournament.

The rankings for the May 7-21 basho at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, released Monday by the Japan Sumo Association, place Hakuho in the west slot along with Bulgarian Kotooshu and Kaio, while Tochiazuma and Chiyotaikai take their positions on the east.

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu remains the sole yokozuna for the 15th consecutive tournament and along with Hakuho, who finished the spring tourney with an impressive 13-2 record, and Kotooshu it is the first time that three foreign wrestlers will appear in the positions of yokozuna and ozeki together.

Mongolian wrestler Ama sits in the west spot in his komusubi debut with countryman Kyokutenho on the east, making it also the first time that five foreign wrestlers will be ranked at komusubi or higher in the rankings. Asashoryu made a comeback to claim his first title in two tournaments in the spring while Tochiazuma, who fell short of his mark for promotion with a 12-3 record last time out, will again be gunning for a shot at sumo's ultimate rank.

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