Akebono bounces back in grand style

TOWERING grand champion Akebono stamped his authority on the Sumo in Hongkong tournament by bouncing back from an early defeat to win the overall crown at the Hongkong Coliseum yesterday.

Akebono, the world's only yokozuna (grand champion), convincingly captured Saturday's tournament with none of his five opponents lasting more than 10 seconds in the ring with him.

He started yesterday's tournament in a similarly awesome fashion, quickly disposing of Takatoriki amd Naminohana with his powerful tsuppari (thrust), which has been a trademark weapon in his rise to the top.

But he was surprisingly beaten by fellow-Hawaiian Musashimaru, a sekiwake (junior champion proper), in the quarter-final yesterday.

Musashimaru went on to reach the final against highly promising Takanohana, the youngest ever ozeki (champion) at only 20, and the losing finalist to Akebono on Saturday.

The relatively small-sized Takanohana, who stands 1.86-metres and weighs in at a ''mere'' 135 kilograms, showed stunning strength in lifting Kotonowaka and Kotofuji out of the ring for his second and third round victories.

He then defeated his elder brother, Wakahanada, in the semi-final and won the tournament by throwing Musashimaru to the ground.

Takanohana, however, never stood a chance against Akebono in the contest to decide the overall title and was pushed out of the ring by the 2.04-metre giant after only about five seconds.

Yesterday's play was hit by the withdrawal of the colossal 263-kilogram Konishiki, the number two seed, who suffered a recurring knee injury in his victory over Takanonami and conceded a second round walkover to Tomoefuji.