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Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007

Hakuho keeps pace with leaders

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho tossed aside compatriot Asasekiryu to maintain a share of the lead with three others on the 11th day of action at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

News photo
Eighth-ranked maegashira Takamisakari forces out No. 5 maegashira Kasugao at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. KYODO PHOTO

The title race is heating up with Hakuho, ozeki duo Chiyotaikai and Kotomitsuki and Estonian rank-and-filer Baruto each sharing the lead with 9-2 records as the 15-day meet enters the final stage.

Hakuho, who won the autumn meet in September, is still the favorite, but a surprise could be in store. Maegashira wrestlers Dejima and Wakakirin have 8-3 records.

In the day's final, Hakuho got a solid jump out of the crouch before easily swatting down the sekiwake from the left side in a matter of seconds at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Asasekiryu slipped to a losing slate of 3-8.

Chiyotaikai, meanwhile, rebounded from a loss a day earlier, wasting little time disposing of Kyokutenho (2-9) with a flurry of shoves and thrusts to remain in front.

Kotomitsuki came roaring out of the blocks against Toyonoshima (7-4), but got locked in stalemate before making his move to heave the No. 4 maegashira over the edge.

Veteran ozeki Kaio, who is in danger of demotion for a record 11th time, was left looking perplexed after winning a bout against sekiwake Aminishiki to pick up a sixth victory to further ease his relegation worries.

Both wrestlers apparently thought the match had not yet started but the referee had given the green light.

The 35-year-old ozeki has said he will hang up his mawashi and retire if he does not post a majority of wins in front of his hometown fans at the Kyushu meet.

Yokozuna Asashoryu, who was has been suspended for two meets, is due back in Japan from Mongolia on Nov. 30 and will be preparing to compete in the New Year meet in January.

The winner of 21 Emperor's Cup titles was punished for playing in a soccer charity match, despite claiming injuries that allowed him to miss a regional tour.

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