OSAKA, Japan -- Yokozuna Akebono's scheduled comeback from injury at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, which takes place March 14-28 at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium, looks "doubtful," his stable master Azumazeki said today.
Chad Rowan, the Hawaiian-born giant who missed the last two tournaments with a herniated disk in his lower back sustained after a nasty fall during practice before last November's Kyushu meet, sparred with komusubi Kaio this morning, but won just four of 10 bouts.
After watching his marquee wrestler struggle against Kaio, Azumazeki hinted that Akebono, who won the last of his nine Emperor's Cups in May 1997, would sit out the tournament -- the 11th time in his career that he has been sidelined by injury.
"Obviously, we have to consult with the (Japan) Sumo Association first. We will make an official announcement tomorrow morning," Azumazeki told reporters.
If the 29-year-old Akebono does skip the Osaka meet, it is likely to fuel further speculation about his retirement from the sport.
Brian Viloria of Waipahu and Antonio Rodriguez of Wailuku won their quarterfinal bouts yesterday in the Everlast U.S. Amateur Boxing Championships at Colorado Springs, Colo.
in boxing semis
Viloria outpointed Cresencio Mercado of Pueblo, Colo., at 106 pounds and Rodriguez outpointed John Santiago of Philadelphia at 119 pounds.
The other remaining Hawaii fighter, Lyndon Patricio of Waianae, lost a 125-pound decision to Tiger Allen of Philadelphia.
TENNIS WIN FOR UH MEN: The Hawaii men's tennis team blanked Oral Roberts, 7-0, yesterday at the UH courts.
Antonio Garcia, Amandeep Singh, Jakob Nilsson and Chad Shibuya were singles and doubles winners for the Rainbows, who improved their season record to 7-5.
RAINBOWS 16TH IN SAN DIEGO GOLF: Hawaii finished 16th among 20 men's golf teams in the Aldila Classic, won by Northwestern Tuesday at San Diego.
Louis Mexia and Russell Nygard wound up tied for 35th place in the individual standings after final rounds of 74 and 77, respectively, for 54-hole totals of 12-over-par 228.
EWA NAILS PLAYOFF SPOT: Ewa trounced Pearl City, 21-6, last night at Ala Wai Field to claim the final berth in a four-team playoff for the Oahu Senior AJA baseball championship.
The double-elimination tournament begins Sunday at Ala Wai Field with Kaneohe playing McCully at 10 a.m. and Sheridan meeting Ewa at 1 p.m. The losers will play next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Ala Wai Field. The winners will tangle next Thursday at 7 p.m. at Hans L'Orange Park.
The Oahu champ will advance to the State Senior AJA Tournament April 3-3 at Hilo.
BOX CAR RACING OPENER: The American Box Car Racing International's Hawaii branch opens its 1999 racing season Saturday with a skills tune-up event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the front parking lot of Tripler Army Medical Center. Registration closes at 11 a.m. For more information, call Robert Cowling at 947-3393.
U.S.-JAPAN RUGBY MATCH HERE: The U.S. National Rugby Team will tackle Japan June 12 at Kapiolani Park -- the first-ever international match to be played in Hawaii.
General admission will be free and match-day VIP packages are available.
For more information, contact Cormac O'Carroll (phone 394-0508 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
PANG-CHING KAPALUA PRO: Jerry Pang-Ching has been promoted to head golf professional at the Kapalua Village Course on Maui. The University of Hawaii graduate has been a member of the PGA since 1991. He replaces Douglas Bohn, who took a position on the mainland.