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Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

Asa steamrolls Goeido to keep pace with Hakuho

Kyodo News

Controversial yokozuna Asashoryu kept his comeback bid on track with another ruthless display Wednesday, the Mongolian battering Goeido to notch a third win at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu overpowers No. 3 maegashira Goeido to improve to 3-1 on Wednesday during the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu ran into Goeido (1-3) like a freight train at the charge in the day's finale and after the slightest of slips, quickly regrouped to bulldoze the third-ranked maegashira off the edge of the raised ring at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asashoryu remained one win behind fellow Mongolian yokozuna and chief rival to the title Hakuho, who cruised past Tochinonada to share the lead with rank-and-filer Futeno.

Asashoryu is eager to underline his dominance on his return to the raised ring after he was banned for two tournaments last August. He was punished for playing soccer in Mongolia when he was supposedly carrying injuries that allowed him to sit out a regional sumo tournament.

The suspension triggered a stress-related illness and Asashoryu spent until the end of November in his homeland receiving treatment for the illness and other physical injuries.

Hakuho was all business in his bout against Tochinonada (2-2), the reigning Emperor's Cup holder upending the third-ranked maegashira with a clinical beltless arm throw to retain his share of the lead.

Elsewhere in the top ranks, it was another day to forget for ozeki wrestlers as winless Chiyotaikai, Kaio, Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki all hit the deck, the latter the latest big gun to succumb to spunky maegashira Kisenosato(3-1).

Kaio failed to recover from a neck clamp and saw his record leveled at 2-2 after a defeat to Mongolian Tokitenku (1-3) while Kotomitsuki (2-2) had no answer as giant-killer Kisenosato pulled off another shocking victory to add to his earlier triumphs over Chiyotaikai and Asashoryu.

Struggling Chiyotaikai, who was forced out by Toyonoshima (2-2) and Wakanosato, got his first win and completed a clean sweep of ozeki when he yanked down relegation-haunted Bulgarian wrestler Kotooshu, who returned to the locker room nursing a second defeat.

Kotooshu is battling against demotion for the first time and must post a minimum eight wins here to retain his ozeki rank.

In the lower echelons of the makuuchi division, Julia Roberts fan Futeno preserved his spotless record by ramming out 11th-ranked South Korean grappler Kasugao (2-2).

At sekiwake, Ama was left swatting the air in frustration after slumping to a third defeat against Kotoshogiku (3-1) while Aminishiki (3-1) was sentenced to his first defeat of the tournament after being thrust down by Dejima (2-2).

Mongolian Kyokutenho also saw his winning start ended by Kokkai, the Georgian grappler seeing off his opponent with a bear hug-and-shove technique to leave both men with 3-1 marks.

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