• The Associated Press

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Grand champion Asashoryu overpowered Tamanoshima on Thursday to take sole possession of the lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Mongolian Asashoryu faced his stiffest challenge of the tournament but prevailed when he used a series of powerful arm thrusts to the head to send the winless No. 3 maegashira over the ridge in the day’s final bout at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asashoryu, who won five of six tournaments last year, improved to a perfect 5-0 and has a one-win lead over seven wrestlers.

Ozeki Kaio, sporting a heavily taped shoulder, bounced back from three straight losses when he shoved out fourth-ranked maegashira Kakizoe (1-4) to pick up only his second win.

Kaio was handed his third loss on Wednesday and has virtually no chance of promotion to grand champion.

In other major bouts, Mongolian Hakuho picked up his fourth straight victory and remained one win off the pace after swatting down Miyabiyama seconds after the faceoff.

Komusubi Hakuho’s only loss of the 15-day tournament was at the hands of compatriot Asashoryu on the opening day. Sekiwake Miyabiyama was handed his second loss against three wins.

News photoYokozuna Asashoryu forces No. 3 maegashira Tamanoshima out of the ring to stay undefeated during fifth-day action of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai deployed his rapid-fire arm thrusts to send Tosanoumi catapulting into the first row of seats.

Chiyotaikai stayed one victory off the lead at 4-1 while second-ranked maegashira Tosanoumi fell to 2-3.

Sekiwake Tochiazuma also remains one win off the pace at 4-1 after posting a hard-fought victory over komusubi Kotomitsuki, who saw his record drop to 2-3.

Elsewhere, sekiwake Wakanosato saw his bid for promotion to ozeki all but dashed when he was forced out by top maegashira Iwakiyama.

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