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Yokozuna Asashoryu and Hakuho don't square off in annual practice matches

Yokozuna Asashoryu, left, talks to Makiko Uchidate, a member of the Yokozuna Promotion Council, at the Kokugikan in Tokyo's Ryogoku. (Mainichi)
Yokozuna Asashoryu, left, talks to Makiko Uchidate, a member of the Yokozuna Promotion Council, at the Kokugikan in Tokyo's Ryogoku. (Mainichi)

An annual practice sumo match event was held at the Kokugikan in Tokyo's Ryogoku last week ahead of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament from May 10, with about 5,000 people came to watch.

Current yokozuna Asashoryu and Hakuho, however, did not end up fighting each other at the annual event held by the Yokozuna Promotion Council.

Hakuho had 11 matches against four ozeki (second highest rank) wrestlers, but failed to show the same aggression as seen in previous tournaments, losing to Kotooshu twice in a row.

"I think it wasn't bad for now, I just want to get myself ready to perform well for the first day," said the yokozuna, who is aiming for his second straight victory at the upcoming tournament.

Asashoryu, who apparently expects to avenge his defeat at the previous tournament, had eight matches, showing overwhelming strength against Kakuryu and other lower-ranked wrestlers, but quickly leaving the ring after the matches.

"I don't need to push myself so hard," the yokozuna said. "I still have pains in the left elbow when I extend my arm, but I will try my best without complaining."

Japan Sumo Association Chairman Musashigawa commented that Asashoryu had strong footwork, but that Hakuho seemed as though he hadn't had enough practice.

Yokozuna Promotion Council member Makiko Uchidate, who appeared at the hall for the first time in seven months after heart surgery last December, said, "I expected Asashoryu to fight like a yokozuna." In typical uncompromising style, she described Hakuho's performance as "unsatisfactory."

(Mainichi Japan) May 4, 2009

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