With Hawaii's Sumotori

Kyodo News Service

Tuesday, March 10, 1998

Grand champions bounce back in sumo ring

OSAKA - Both yokozuna finally racked up a win after two straight losses but ozeki Takanonami was whisked away by top maegashira Chiyotaikai for his first loss Tuesday at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Ozeki Wakanohana remained the only undefeated member of the yokozuna-ozeki contingent after outwrestling komusubi Kaio to improve his record to 3-0 in the 15-day meet.

Four more grapplers are at 3-0, including Chiyotaikai and fourth-ranked maegashira Takatoriki, an easy victor over Mongolia's No. 7 maegashira Kyokushuzan.

Ozeki Musashimaru, or Fiamalu Penitani from Hawaii, body-slammed winless top maegashira Shikishima and boosted his record to 2-1.

Musashimaru won the previous tournament in January and could gain promotion to sumo's highest rank of yokozuna by winning this tournament.

Yokozuna Takanohana appeared far from his usual dominating form but still flattened No. 3 maegashira with a right-arm throw and the sellout crowd at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium reacted with warm applause.

One bout later, Hawaiian-born Akebono, or Chad Rowan, played it careful and conservative in forcing Kotonishiki to his knee. It was Akebono's 15th straight victory against the hardy komusubi.

Kotonishiki, an upset winner over ozeki Musashimaru on Sunday, ran across the dohyo and rammed into Akebono at the face-off, attempted several face slaps and tugged at the yokozuna's arms but to no avail. Both yokozuna and Kotonishiki are now 1-2.

The day's marquee match pitted Wakanohana against Kaio, who has turned the tournament on its head with shock victories over both yokozuna.

But on Tuesday, it was all Wakanohana. As the ozeki grabbed and shoved, the komusubi went on the defensive and backtracked out of the ring to his first loss of the tournament.

Wakanohana's stablemate Takanonami was not so lucky. Chiyotaikai proved quicker at the face-off and stunned his taller, heavier foe with a sharp arm thrust to the throat. Three more shoves gave Takanonami his first defeat in Osaka.

"Yes, I wrestled really well," grinned Chiyotaikai after the bout, his first-ever win against Takanonami. "I thought about a lot of different tactics, but the key was not to allow Takanonami to get a grip."

Earlier in the day, crowd-pleasing Mainoumi felled Mongolian Kyokutenho with an inner leg sweep as both maegashira wrestlers saw their tallies go to 1-2.

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