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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kotooshu handed first loss, still on pace for first Emperor's Cup

Kyodo News

Bulgarian yogurt has long been the country's most well-known export to Japan.

News photo
Upset: Maegashira No. 4 Aminishiki (left) hands ozeki Kotooshu his first loss of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Friday. KYODO PHOTO

If Kotooshu has his way, that will all change on Saturday.

Kotooshu is poised to go down in sumo's history books after the Bulgarian ozeki put one hand on his first Emperor's Cup despite being sentenced by Aminishiki to his first defeat at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Kotooshu, whose real name is Kaloyan Mahlyanov, lost his way against fourth-ranked maegashira Aminishiki and dropped to 12-1, but he still stayed two wins clear of Hakuho and with two days of the 15-day meet remaining after the Mongolian yokozuna suffered another surprise defeat.

Kotooshu now only needs to win Saturday's bout over another Mongolian, Ama, to become the first European wrestler to win the Emperor's Cup.

Kotooshu is the only active ozeki among the current crop without a title to his name and he came into the summer basho with the modest of goal of saving his rank.

The 25-year-old, though, has looked unstoppable at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan and in conquering Hakuho on Thursday, matched his previous best winning streak — 12-0 as a sekiwake at the 2005 autumn basho.

However, in Friday's bout Kotooshu appeared nervous at the faceoff and paid the price for going straight for Aminishiki's (9-4) belt, the maegashira reading him like a book and countering to claim victory with a flurry of shoves.

Hakuho (10-3) failed to capitalize in the day's penultimate bout and got rammed out of the ring by ozeki Kotomitsuki (7-6) before Kaio (8-5) completed a day of upsets by shooting down slumping yokozuna Asashoryu (9-4).

Asashoryu was seeking his 23rd Emperor's Cup here, but surprise back-to-back losses to Kotooshu on Wednesday and Chiyotaikai on Thursday all but eliminated him from the title race.

Elsewhere, the frustratingly inconsistent Chiyotaikai emerged victorious from an epic slapfest with Miyabiyama, leaving both men with 5-8 records.

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