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Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007
Asashoryu secures Emperor's Cup title
Yokozuna joins elite 20-win fraternity
Compiled from Kyodo News, AP
Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu overpowered troubled ozeki Tochiazuma to clinch his 20th Emperor's Cup on the penultimate day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
Toyonoshima, the only wrestler in with a chance of ruining Asashoryu's bid for a fourth straight title, suffered a third defeat and the yokozuna took full advantage in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Asashoryu was forced to dig in deep but broke free from a mid-ring stalemate to belly Tochiazuma (5-9) to the ring's edge and lift the ozeki over the straw bales for a 13th win.
Asashoryu joins former yokozuna greats Taiho, Kitanoumi, Chiyonofuji and Takanohana in an elite group of five wrestlers to have lifted 20 titles.
"I like that figure (20)," said the 26-year-old Asashoryu. "It's a new year and hopefully I can keep on racking up the titles."
"I felt a bit stiff and am not really pleased with the way I wrestled today, but I was patient and took my chance."
Asashoryu was given a helping hand by compatriot Ama (9-5) as the lightweight maegashira toppled ninth-ranked Toyonoshima with a rare "kozumatori" leg pulling technique in an entertaining earlier match.
"I'm thrilled to get the 20th title," said Asashoryu. "My goal is to keep winning titles and stay as healthy as possible this year."
Asashoryu, who hails from Ulan Bator, is fifth on the all-time list of title winners. Grand champion Taiho, who retired in 1971, is first overall with 32.
Elsewhere, Kaio (7-7) scored a crucial victory over Bulgarian Kotooshu (9-5) in an all-ozeki matchup but still needs to beat Tochiazuma on Sunday to finish with a majority of wins.
Ozeki Hakuho (9-5) rebounded from Friday's loss by muscling out crowd-pleaser Takamisakari (7-7), while Chiyotaikai used his trade mark slap-and-pull technique to haul down sekiwake Kotomitsuki (8-6) and make it double digits with a 10th win.
Sekiwake Miyabiyama (5-9) showed glimpses of the form that once elevated him to sumo's second rank of ozeki by blasting out Homasho (7-7) with a series of powerful shoves.
Komusubi Kisenosato staved off a losing record by barging out third-ranked Kyokutenho. Both wrestlers must take their final bouts to claim winning records after both left the ring with 7-7 marks.
Roho's disappointing campaign showed no signs of improvement though as the Russian komusubi was defeated by Aminishiki (4-10).