(November 10 to 24)

Takanohana finally made up his mind to stay out of this tournament on Nov.9. The day before, he had a very high fever and he was convinced by his stable master and father, Futagoyama. It's the first time since his debut in pro sumo in 1988 that he will miss a major tournament. Takatoriki has the chance to try out for ozeki this time. He needs 13 wins to be promoted. According to a very reliable source, the top candidates to take the Emperor Cup this time are Takanonami and Akebono.

Akebono lost already on the first day! He seemed to be losing this balance throughout the bout against Musoyama.

There were more upsets in the very top ranking on the 2nd day. 2 Ozeki or champion wrestlers were defeated. Wakanohana lost to Kaio who's receiving loud applauds and cheers from his hometown fans. Takanonami was taken out of the ring by Kotonishiki's quick motion. Both ozeki lost again on the 3rd day.

The only other ozeki, Musashimaru was defeated on the 4th day. He had a good start against Tosanoumi giving him thrusts. But as soon a Tosanoumi started to take Musashimaru's belt, the situation changed. In the end, Tosanoumi threw Musashimaru down inside the ring.

The 2 sekiwake, or junior champion wrestlers Kaio and Takatoriki succumbed to their first loss on the 5th day. The only one in the highest makuuchi division with a perfect record, Tochiazuma, lost on the 6th day to the aggressive chunky wrestler Asanowaka. There are now a number of wrestlers who are competing for the Emperor's Cup. By the way, Takatoriki lost again on the 6th day and again on the 7th... His hope to be promoted to ozeki for the next basho has been shattered.

Thank goodness, Mainoumi has won 5 bouts so far! He has at least secured his place in the juryo division.

As of the 9th day, Kaio, Musashimaru and Akebono are the leaders with one loss each. They are followed by the group including Wakanohana, Tamakasuga, and Tochiazuma. But Kaio lost the next day. He more or less backed off from Tosanoumi to leave the ring for his 2nd loss. Meanwhile, Musashimaru successfully pushed Akinoshima out of the ring, and Akebono thrust out Oginishiki.

The major upset on the 11th day was with Wakanohana. He was easily taken out of the ring by Oginishiki. It's Waka's 3rd loss. Musashimaru defeated Kaio and Akebono pushed out Terao. So the same two men take the lead still in this tournament.

French President Jacques Chirac who is officially visiting Japan flew to Fukuoka city to enjoy the 12th day of the grand tourney. The day was filled with excitement. Kyokushuzan tried a rare trick. He took Rikio's leg to trip him over. Oginishiki toppled another ozeki. This time, he beat Musashimaru. Akebono lost too. He was practically hugged down to the floor by Takanonami. Now, both Hawaiian born wrestlers have succumbed to their 2nd loss. After the defeat, they attended the banquet for President Chirac. With 3 losses each, there's still chance for Wakanohana, Kaio and Tochiazuma to win the Emperor's Cup.

The two leaders faced defeat again the following day. Musashimaru had a very competitive bout against Wakanohana, but Waka's skill overwhelmed Maru's power. Akebono flipped over against Takatoriki. As of the 13th day, 4 top ranking wrestlers are on a par. They are Akebono, Musashimaru, Wakanohana and Kaio.

The only people left in the leading group are Wakanohana and Musashimaru as of the 14th day. Wakanohana skillfully toppled Kotonishiki. Akebono landed weakly on the ground in the bout against fellow islander Musashimaru. The second group consists of Takanonami, Akebono and Kaio.

On the Final Day
Now, an unheard of situation occurred on the final day of the tournament. Musashimaru lost to Takanonami, and Wakanohana to Akebono. In the end, there were 5 top ranking sumo wrestlers with 4 losses. For the first time in the history of sumo, a 5 man playoff was held. Each of the contestants picked a stick to decide against whom and in what order they would go into playoff. The sticks were marked east 1, east 2, west 1, west 2, and the lucky stick that automatically seeds to rikishi had a circle. So this is how the playoff went. Wakanohana faced Musashimaru. Waka lost, so he was automatically eliminated. Then, Kaio touched the ground slighly before Takanonami when both were falling from the ring. Kaio was eliminated. Musashimaru returned to the ring again, this time, to fight seeded Akebono. From here on, the first person to win 2 bouts in a row would be the winner of the tourney. Next, Maru took on Takanonami who he lost to earlier in the day. He successfully pushed Takanonami out of the ring. That victory gave Musashimaru the Emperor's Cup! It's his second tourney win. He and the 4 others finished the 15 days with 11 wins and 4 losses. Noone has won the Emperor's Cup with so many losses for 24 years.

Dream wrestling with Konishiki
One wrestler's dream has been realized on the 2nd day of the tournament. Mongolian wrestler Kyokushuzan was matched up with his hero from Hawaii, Konishiki, for the first time. It was reported that before that bout, Kyokushuzan was warned by his mother not to fight too hard so as not to get hurt from facing a very heavy man. The consequence of the bout was--Konishiki practically walked out of the ring, unable to stop himself because of his weight.

Then on the 7th day, up and coming Tochiazuma was thrilled to be able to come face to face on the ring with Konishiki. Tochiazuma adores Konishiki. Tochiazuma recalls how the sumo star from Hawaii rescued him when he was drowning in a swimming pool and played with him. Well, Konishiki was overthrown by Tochiazuma onto the ring.

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