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Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007

Asa topples foe; still in front

Kyodo News

Grand champion Asashoryu muscled down sekiwake Kotomitsuki to stay in the lead with five days remaining at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu, right, drives sekiwake Kotomitsuki down to the dirt on the 10th day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Tuesday. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu had to dodge a bullet after Kotomitsuki got a right-hand grip on the yokozuna's arm, quickly breaking the sekiwake's hold before toppling his opponent near the edge to improve to 9-1 at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Kotomitsuki slipped to an even 5-5.

The Mongolian yokozuna is the all-and-out favorite to win his fourth straight title and 20th Emperor's Cup overall. Two wrestlers, including ozeki Chiyotaikai, are at 8-2, one off the pace.

In an all-ozeki battle, Chiyotaikai pounded injury-hit Tochiazuma with a barrage of slaps and thrusts, sending his rival flailing backward to win his eighth bout against two defeats to remain in the title race. Tochiazuma fell to 4-6.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu got inside for a left-hand grip on the mawashi of Miyabiyama before slamming the sekiwake to the dirt surface to improve to 7-3. Miyabiyama suffered his eighth loss for a losing record.

Relegation-threatened Mongolian Hakuho (7-3) moved within one win of preserving his ozeki status, convincingly tossing aside Kotoshogiku, who slipped to 5-5.

Ozeki Kaio saw an eight-bout winning streak to Mongolian Kyokutenho come to an end when the Mongolian No. 3 maegashira got two hands on the back of the ozeki's belt and heaved him over the raised ring. Both wrestlers were left at 5-5.

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