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Friday, March 23, 2007

Hakuho holds lead at Osaka tourney ahead of Asashoryu

OSAKA (AP) Mongolian Hakuho overpowered Kotomitsuki on Thursday to maintain sole possession of the lead at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Ozeki Hakuho, who is bidding for his second Emperor's Cup, got a left-hand grip of Kotomitsuki's belt and forced the sekiwake over the edge to improve to 11-1 with three days left in the 15-day meet.

Kotomitsuki eventually got a hold of Hakuho's belt but was no match for the determined ozeki and dropped to 8-4.

In the day's final bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, grand champion Asashoryu of Mongolia forced out ozeki Kaio to pick up his 10th win against two losses.

Asashoryu lost his first two bouts of the tournament and has now reeled off 10 straight wins in pursuit of his 21st title. Kaio dropped to 5-7.

Georgian-born Kokkai, a No. 7 maegashira, stayed in the hunt for the Emperor's Cup when he spun ozeki Kotooshu around after the faceoff and shoved the Bulgarian out to move to 9-3.

Kotooshu, who has to face Asashoryu on Friday, dropped to 7-5.

Unheralded No. 14 maegashira Tochiozan continued to impress and overpowered fifth-ranked Homasho to post his 10th win against a pair of losses. Homasho dropped to 8-4.

Komusubi Ama moved toward a winning record when he used an arm throw to upend Toyonoshima and improve to 7-5. Top maegashira Toyonoshima fell to 6-6.

Meanwhile, Sekiwake Kotoshogiku beat Kisenosato.

Tochiazuma out

OSAKA (Kyodo) Ozeki Tochiazuma withdrew from the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament after being hospitalized in Osaka on Thursday morning to treat high blood pressure, his stablemaster Tamanoi said.

Tamanoi said Tochiazuma, who has developed cardiac enlargement, has complained of headaches and dizziness since several days ago with his blood pressure rising, making it difficult for him to wrestle for the rest of the tournament.

Tochiazuma lost Thursday's bout against ozeki Chiyotaikai by default. Chiyotaikai improved to 7-5.

"Tochiazuma has had headaches since last Sunday and the dizziness he is suffering from makes it impossible for him to wrestle for the moment," Tamanoi said, adding, "These are brain symptoms, so I will have him receive examinations thoroughly."

Tochiazuma started the 15-day tournament at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium needing at least eight wins to retain his ozeki rank, the second highest in sumo. He won on the first seven days and met the requirement with his eighth win on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Tochiazuma lost to yokozuna Asashoryu, dropping his record to 8-3.

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