Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, December 25, 2001


Tochiazuma in January
meet as ozeki

Star-Bulletin wire services

TOKYO >> Tochiazuma, runner-up at last month's Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, will start a new adventure when he steps onto the raised ring next month as his ozeki status was officially confirmed in new rankings released today by the Japan Sumo Association.

Tochiazuma, who went 12-3 as a sekiwake in November, will be the first wrestler from the Tamanoi stable to fight at sumo's second-highest rank when the 15-day meet gets under way at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Jan. 13.

The 25-year-old grappler will also be the first ozeki from Tokyo since Wakanohana's promotion in the autumn of 1993.

Yokozuna Musashimaru, or Hawaii's Fiamalu Penitani, who lifted his first Emperor's Cup of 2001 in Kyushu, will enter the sumo arena from the prestigious east side for the third straight tourney in the absence of Takanohana.

Takanohana again heads up the west but is unlikely to return to dohyo in January due to a knee injury that kept him out of the last three tournaments.

Kaio leads the east side for ozeki ahead of Chiyotaikai, who is facing relegation to sekiwake for the third time in his career after sitting out the Kyushu tournament following his withdrawal from the autumn meet with a foot injury.

Musoyama posted winning records in all six tournaments in 2001 and takes the top position on the west side ahead of Tochiazuma.

At sekiwake, autumn champion Kotomitsuki is joined on the east side by former ozeki Miyabiyama, who will be aiming to bounce back after an injury forced him to miss the autumn and Kyushu basho tournaments.

Miyabiyama is expected to mount a challenge in a bid to regain his former rank in January when 10 or more wins will ensure him promotion back to ozeki.

On the opposite side, rising star Asashoryu will become the first grappler from Mongolia to compete at sekiwake, while compatriot Kyokutenho makes his debut as a komusubi on the west side after going 8-7 in Kyushu. Komusubi returnee Wakanosato occupies the east spot.

Hapless former ozeki Dejima continued his freefall down the rankings to No. 4 maegashira after another poor showing in November.

For more sumo information online, try:
Sumo Web
Da Kine Sumo E-zine
Grand Sumo Home Page
Kyodo News Service

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