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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Asashoryu picks up 17th Emperor's Cup

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu won his 17th career title on Saturday when he overpowered ozeki Chiyotaikai to keep his perfect record intact at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu pushes ozeki Chiyotaikai out of the ring on the 14th day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday to claim his 17th Emperor's Cup. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu (14-0) turned in a flawless performance in barging his opponent out of the dohyo and clinched his first Emperor's Cup in two tournaments with one day left in the 15-day meet at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

The Mongolian grand champion gave Chiyotaikai no chance throughout the final bout of the day, knocking the ozeki off-balance with a left-arm beltless throw before quickly grabbing the belt with his right arm to set up decisive shoves at the ring's edge.

"I tried to keep my cool and watch how he wrestles early on," said Asashoryu, whose triumph came after the 25-year-old from Ulan Bator pulled out of the summer meet in May with a right elbow injury.

"I simply hoped after suffering the injury that my elbow would recover as quickly as possible and I just wanted to win another title here in Nagoya," he said.

Asashoryu clinched his title minutes after fellow Mongolian Hakuho kept alive his hopes of earning promotion to yokozuna.

Hakuho (12-2) also pulled off a convincing win against veteran ozeki Kaio (8-6) with a powerful belt-grip throw and will now square off with Asashoryu in the tournament's finale on Sunday with his promotion on the line.

Japan Sumo Association Chairman Kitanoumi has indicated that Hakuho will likely be considered for promotion to sumo's highest rank if he finishes the Nagoya tourney with 13 wins or more.

In other bouts, Miyabiyama's remarkable fightback continued as the sekiwake earned his fourth win in as many days after his hopes of returning to the ozeki rank in the autumn tournament in September effectively disappeared.

Miyabiyama (9-5), runnerup to Hakuho in May, sent fellow sekiwake Kotomitsuki (8-6) crumbling down to the dirt on his third slap-down attempt following exchanges of hard slaps and thrusts.

Kokkai (10-4) from the former Soviet republic of Georgia reached double-digit wins after executing a perfectly timed slap-down technique that handed ozeki Tochiazuma (8-6) his sixth loss.

The result increased Kokkai's chances of wrestling in the sanyaku, or the three ranks below yokozuna, in the autumn meet.

Struggling Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (7-7) evened his record with a pull-down win over fifth-ranked maegashira Futeno (6-8) and will try to secure a winning record when he meets Tochiazuma on Sunday.

Russian Roho saw his winning streak end at three matches after returning from a three-day suspension, losing to 20-year-old komusubi Kisenosato (8-6) in a grueling belt-grip battle.

Roho appeared to take control of the bout early on before Kisenosato battled back to shove the giant No. 3 maegashira out of the ring to pick up his sixth win in a row. Roho's official record is now 7-5, including a loss by default, with two rest days.

Lower in the makuuchi division, Estonian giant Baruto (8-6) downed Tamakasuga (10-4) with a rare thigh-sweep technique to secure a winning record that will move him up from the No. 4 maegashira position for the autumn tournament.

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