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Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007
NEW YEAR GRAND SUMO TOURNAMENT
Asa gets back to business after upset
Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu rebounded from the previous day's shock defeat, manhandling Aminishiki to stay one off the early pace at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
In the day's finale, Asashoryu was uncharacteristically slow off the "tachiai" but kept his composure before hemming up his opponent's arm with a left-handed grip and grappling the No. 2 maegashira over the edge at Ryogoku Kokugikan, leaving the sole yokozuna with a record of 3-1. Aminishiki slipped to 1-3.
Asashoryu saw his 18-bout winning streak snapped in a defeat to Dejima but is still the red-hot favorite to win his fourth straight Emperor's Cup.
Victory here for the 26-year-old will see Asashoryu join an elite group of only four wrestlers so far in sumo history that have reached the milestone of 20 title victories.
Some sumo critics say, however, Asashoryu is due for a fall due to his consistent lack of training but the Mongolian warrior continues to prove his doubters wrong.
Ozeki Kaio won a battle with Miyabiyama (1-3) when he got in for a firm grip on his rival's mawashi and calmly ushered the sekiwake out to improve to 3-1.
Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (2-2) bounced back from two straight losses, absorbing a hard shove from Mongolian Kyokutenho (2-2) before quickly tackling the No. 3 maegashira over the edge.
Kotooshu has recovered from a chronic knee injury but still appears shaky in the dohyo.
Mongolian ozeki Hakuho, meanwhile, was the victim of his own impatience and fell to his second defeat after trying to ram out komusubi Kisenosato, who picked up his first win.
Hakuho needs eight wins at the 15-day meet to preserve his ozeki status after skipping the Kyushu meet in November with a broken toe.
Former ozeki Dejima (2-2) could not pull off the same giant-killing act against ozeki Chiyotaikai (3-1), who allowed the top-ranked maegashira to shove him to the edge before sidestepping to send Dejima sprawling into the ringside seats.
Local favorite Tochiazuma (2-2), meanwhile, won a bout by default against Estonian big man Baruto (2-2), who pulled out the same day with a knee injury.
Sekiwake Kotomitsuki (3-1) dumped Russian komusubi Roho (1-3) with a creative inner thigh twist down technique.
In another key bout, Mongolian Ama (3-1) was barged out in a matter of seconds by Georgian Kokkai (2-2).