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Monday, March 10, 2008

Asashoryu avenges past defeat with easy opening day victory

OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu got churning with a garbage disposal of komusubi Kisenosato on the first day of action at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu (right) pushes komusubi Kisenosato on Sunday during the first day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu took revenge for a loss against Kisenosato on the second day of the New Year meet in January, getting both hands under his opponent's armpits before heaving him over the edge in the day's penultimate bout at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium.

Hakuho also got off to a winning start two days before his 23rd birthday, tossing aside komusubi Takekaze in the day's final match. The Mongolian yokozuna was never in any real danger before getting in for a left-handed belt grip and slamming his opponent to the dohyo surface.

Fans are hoping it will be another adrenalin-packed showdown between sumo's two yokozuna following Hakuho's emphatic victory over Asashoryu on the final day of the New Year meet.

Asashoryu, who has faded somewhat into the woodwork since winning a title at the Nagoya meet in July last year and serving out a two-tournament suspension, is aiming for his career 22nd Emperor's Cup title here.

Hakuho, meanwhile, has a chance to become only the sixth wrestler since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958 to win four consecutive titles.

It was a day of utter disaster for sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki, save for veteran Chiyotaikai.

Chiyotaikai, who faces demotion for a record-tying 11th time, was forced to work hard but eventually shoved out Miyabiyama for a first-day win.

Kaio, however, could not contain Aminishiki, backpedaling almost immediately after the face-off, as the No. 2 maegashira barreled forward to send the ozeki over the edge.

Kotomitsuki was sent to a shock defeat against the diminutive Kakuryu, a top-ranked maegashira from Mongolia. Kakuryu made mincemeat of the ozeki in a matter of seconds with a textbook frontal takeout maneuver.

Bulgarian Kotooshu was the third ozeki to hit the dirt when he made a poor attempt at a charge against Asasekiryu and inadvertently stepped over the edge.

Mongolian sekiwake Ama suffered a first-day defeat, losing his balance after an ill-advised, all-out charge against compatriot Tokitenku.

In the lower echelon, Russian wrestler Roho celebrated his 28th birthday with a victory against Dejima, deploying a pulling overarm throw to tug his opponent over the edge.

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