Musashimaru is just 'wild' about muscling his way to the top again

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 July, 2003, 12:00am

When a frustrated 237kg man-mountain declares that he is 'going to go wild' and will muscle his way back to the top, opponents know that pain is very definitely on the way.

American-born supremo, Musashimaru, has been on the sidelines since November, when he was forced to retire hurt after the fifth bout of the 15-day Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, and the vacuum has been filled, rather too quickly for his liking, by the 22-year-old Mongolian, Asashoryu.

Asashoryu, 100kg lighter than the 13-time champion, has again been granted the coveted East Yokozuna ranking for the mid-summer tournament, which opens in Nagoya today.

Musashimaru finds himself relegated to the opposite corner as West Yokozuna for the second successive 'banzuke', the ranking system which seeds key opponents against each other at the tournaments held in the odd-numbered months.

His much-awaited clash with Asashoryu was to have taken place in May, but an injury to a wrist during a warm-up a few hours before the opening day's bouts put Musashimaru on the injury list.

Asashoryu went on to win that Tokyo tournament with only two losses, adding the big silverware to those he took home to the Takasago stable in January and November. Asked about his chances of getting back into the winner's circle this time, the 32-year-old Musashimaru said simply: 'Good morning. This tournament I'm going to go wild.' Four ozeki (the second highest sumo ranking) line up behind them.

In the East camp are Kaio, runner-up to Asashoryu last time at 11-4, and Musoyama, who had been in danger of demotion from the ozeki rank until the very last day. Opposite them are the tough 156kg, 27-year-old Chiyotaikai, the winner in March with a 12-3 record, and Tochiazuma, who, like Musashimaru, has been struggling with injury.

The entire programme of bouts in the senior Makuuchi Division will be broadcast live on Cable TV's NHK World Premium channel 48, between 3pm and 5pm every day until until July 20.