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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hakuho, Kotomitsuki overpower opponents

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Newly promoted grand champion Hakuho and promotion-chasing sekiwake Kotomitsuki stayed firmly in the lead with undefeated records, overpowering their respective opponents on the ninth day of action at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

In the penultimate bout at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Hakuho, 22, moved in close against Kotoshogiku before smacking the No. 1 maegashira forward to improve to 9-0. Kotoshogiku slipped to 4-5. Hakuho is on a 25-bout winning streak extending back to a win on the final day of the spring tourney in March.

Hakuho won back-to-back Emperor's Cups before earning yokozuna promotion to end Asashoryu's 21-tournament reign as the sole grand champion.

Kotomitsuki, who needs around 12 wins to be considered for promotion to sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki, got a right-handed grip on the mawashi of Toyonoshima (2-7) right after the faceoff before dragging his opponent over the straw bales.

The Japan Sumo Association usually requires wrestlers to notch 33 to 34 wins over three meets to be considered for promotion to ozeki. Kotomitsuki, who faces off against Hakuho on Tuesday, was 22-8 in the previous two tourneys.

In the day's final bout, yokozuna Asashoryu sent out Miyabiyama (4-5), but appeared flustered against the No. 6 maegashira before finally heaving him out to improve to 8-1.

Asashoryu, whose confidence level took a dip when he lost to sekiwake Aminishiki on the opening day, is aiming for his 21st Emperor's Cup and first title in three meets.



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