Sumo: American dream for Akebono

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The Independent Online
AKEBONO, the grand champion, made a successful first competitive appearance in his native United States when he defeated Takanohana in the final of a two-day basho in San Jose on Saturday.

The Hawaiian, whose real name is Chad Rowan, displayed the power that helped him attain sumo's highest rank of yokozuna in January by cutting a swathe through his opponents in the first four rounds.

In the final, Akebono easily disposed of the 20-year-old rising star Takanohana, who was clearly tired after a hard-fought victory over his older brother, Wakanohana, in the semi-finals.

The biggest upset came in the second round when Konishiki, the 29- year-old champion from Hawaii, was pushed out by Naminohana, a sumotori three ranks below him.

Afterwards Akebono said: 'We tried our best to give the audience a good show.' He was pleased to win in America and with the crowd's enthusiasm for all the sumotori.

'I think everybody was giving me a big round of applause, but it wasn't because I was from America. They accepted everyone from Japan, which was good.'