Sun, Jan 18, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Asashoryu escapes first defeat at New Year sumo

AP , TOKYO

Mongolian sumo grand champion Asashoryu, right, pushes Toyonoshima out of the ring during their sixth-day bout at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Friday.

PHOTO: AFP

Grand champion Asashoryu was given a scare yesterday, but recovered to defeat Yoshikaze and stay tied for the lead at the halfway mark of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Mongolian Asashoryu was shoved back to the brink by the hard-charging Yoshikaze (2-5), but spun the No. 2 maegashira around at the last moment and shoved his opponent out to improve to 7-0 in the 15-day meet.

Asashoryu, who missed all or parts of the previous three tournaments because of injury, is tied for the lead with fellow Mongolian Hakuho and lower-ranked wrestler Tochiozan.

In other major bouts, grand champion Hakuho kept pace at 7-0 with an arm throw at the edge of the ring that sent sekiwake ­Aminishiki sprawling to the dirt surface and a record of 3-4.

In an earlier bout, No. 12 maegashira Tochiozan forced out 13th-ranked Koryu (3-4) to maintain his share of the 7-0 lead.

Newly-promoted ozeki Harumafuji shoved out top maegashira Kyo­ku­tenho (1-6) to improve to 2-5.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai stayed one win off the pace at 6-1 when he used his trademark arm thrusts to send No. 3 maegashira Takekaze (2-5) toppling off the raised ring.

In an all-European showdown, Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu forced out Estonian sekiwake Baruto to give both wrestlers a record of 6-1.

Veteran ozeki Kaio, who needs a winning record to maintain his status at sumo’s second-highest rank, forced out komusubi Toyo­no­shima (2-5) to improve to 5-2.

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