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Monday, May 8, 2006

Hakuho wins big in ozeki debut as Summer Grand starts up


By JIM ARMSTRONG

TOKYO (AP) Mongolian Hakuho opened with a win in his ozeki debut Sunday, the first day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu flips over Ama on the opening day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho, who was promoted to the sport's second highest rank in March, forced veteran wrestler Wakanosato to the edge shortly after the faceoff at Ryogoku Kokugikan before shoving the No. 2 maegashira out.

Hakuho, who is only 21, is the fourth-youngest wrestler in modern sumo history to be promoted to ozeki after Takanohana, Taiho and Kitanoumi, who all went on to become yokozuna legends.

Hakuho made his sumo debut in 2001 and is also the second Mongolian to reach the title after grand champion Asashoryu.

In the day's final bout, Asashoryu got off to a winning start when he used an arm throw to send a determined Ama off the ring.

Ama, who is also from Mongolia and was making his komusubi debut, put up a strong effort against Asashoryu but was helpless once the burly grand champion got a hold of his belt.

Asashoryu won his 16th Emperor's Cup at the Spring tourney in March and is the odds-on favorite to take title in this tourney.

Estonian Baruto, making his debut in the elite makuuchi division, got both arms around Homasho and lifted his fellow 11th ranked maegashira over the straw ridge for his first win.

Baruto went 15-0 in the juryo division in the Spring tournament to earn promotion to the upper ranks.

Top maegashira Kisenosato started off on a winning note with a hard-fought win over Bulgarian Kotooshu.

Kisenosato muscled Kotooshu to the edge and then used his weight advantage as both wrestlers toppled off the ring and into the first row of seats.

Ozeki Tochiazuma barely broke a sweat when he shoved Mongolian komusubi Kyokutenho over the straw ridge in a matter of seconds.

Elsewhere, ozeki Kaio was handed an opening-day loss when he was shoved off the dirt surface by No. 2 maegashira Asasekiryu.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai hauled down Kakizoe after using a series of slaps to the upper body to put the top maegashira on the defensive after the faceoff.

In other major bouts, sekiwake Miyabiyama swatted down No. 3 maegashira Kotoshogiku, while fellow sekiwake Kotomitsuki bumped out Aminishiki.

Tokitsuumi pulls out

Sixteenth-ranked maegashira Tokitsuumi withdrew from the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday after hurting his back in a pre-tournament practice.

Tokitsuumi will need to rest until the symptoms subside, according to the medical examination report he submitted on the day the tournament starts.

His stable master Tokitsukaze, however, suggested Tokitsuumi may return to action during the tournament.

"We'll see how it goes for four or five days. It'll get better day by day," said Tokitsukaze.

It is the first time that Tokitsuumi has pulled out of a tournament since the summer meet in 2003 and his fifth time overall. He will forfeit Sunday's scheduled bout against Jumonji.



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