Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Sumo champ rises to the challenge in crunch showdown

AP , FUKUOKA, JAPAN

Struggling grand champion Musashimaru overwhelmed Kotomitsuki on Friday in a must-win showdown at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Fighting in the final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Mus-ashimaru got both arms around the top maegashira and calmly lifted his opponent out to improve to 3-3. Kotomitsuki dropped to 1-5.

After six days of the 15-day tourney, ozeki Tochiazuma and lower-ranked grappler Hokutoriki share the lead at 6-0.

Musashimaru has missed all or parts of the last six tournaments due to an injured left wrist. A fourth loss on Friday would have put the injury-plagued yokozuna in an awkward position with calls for his retirement mounting.

In other major bouts, grand champion Asashoryu, who won the Autumn tournament and is gunning for his fifth title, got a right-hand grip of Miyabiyama's belt right after the face-off and lifted the lumbering No. 4 maegashira out over the straw ridge to remain one win back of the leaders at 5-1 while handing Miyabiyama his third loss.

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