The new sumo rankings show six ozeki for the first time in the history of the sport, as well as some familiar names listed under new titles or new stable affiliations.
Kakuryu’s promotion to ozeki for the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament increased the total number of ozeki to six, according to the rankings released by the Japan Sumo Association on April 23. Kakuryu reached the ozeki ranking after competing in 62 tournaments. He became the fourth Mongolian ozeki in history, following in the footsteps of Asashoryu, Hakuho and Harumafuji.
Kakuryu held a news conference at the Izutsu stable in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward on the morning of April 23. Looking at the new rankings, which showed Kakuryu’s name in slightly bigger font compared with the previous tournament due to his promotion, the wrestler said: “This makes me even more determined. I feel more responsible to do better.”
Kakuryu had been in much demand from the media for interviews after he was promoted about four weeks ago, but he hasn't let the newfound attention distract him.
“I have continued training as usual," he told reporters on April 23 with a big smile on his face. "I am so happy to be called ozeki.”
Asked about his goal for the May basho, the Mongolian said: “I’m not imagining myself winning the tournament. But I want to record more wins than losses.”
According to the new rankings, Toyonoshima returned to sekiwake for the first time in two tournaments, while Goeido returned to sekiwake for the first time in 17 basho. Homasho returned as komusubi for the first time in three tournaments.
Two wrestlers--Chiyotairyu and Kimikaze--are new to the makuuchi ranks. Chiyotairyu, who graduated from Nippon Sport Science University and made his professional debut at last year’s summer tournament, was promoted to the makuuchi division. Kimikaze became the second makuuchi wrestler to have graduated from the prestigious Waseda University. The first was Kasagiyama, who made the makuuchi division at the summer tourney in 1935.
Seven members of the Oshima stable--including Kyokutenho, Asahisho and Kyokushuho--will transfer to the Tomozuna stable on April 24 after the retirement of stablemaster Oshima.
The Summer Grand Sumo Tournament kicks off May 6 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
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