NAGOYA – The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) board of directors officially approved the promotion of Asashoryu to ozeki Wednesday, making him the first Mongolian and fourth foreign wrestler to reach sumo’s second-highest rank.
Asashoryu, who finished runnerup at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament with an impressive 12-3 record, won 34 bouts over the last three tournaments as sekiwake to meet the JSA’s guideline for ozeki promotion.
“Now that I’m ozeki, I have to do everything I can to prove that I’m worthy of my rank,” Asashoryu said after messengers from the JSA informed him of the news.
“I want to get stronger both mentally and physically so I have to look after myself, stay injury free and wrestle the best I can,” he added.
The Ulan Bator native, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, came to Japan in 1997 and made his professional debut in January 1999 following an amateur career at Meitoku Gijuku high school in Kochi Prefecture.
With his fiery wrestling style, Asashoryu shoved and thrust his way to three junior division titles before being promoted to the elite makuuchi division in January last year.
He has wrestled in just 22 basho as a professional and is the fastest to gain ozeki status since sumo went to six tournaments a year in 1958. At 21 years and 9 months, the Takasago stable wrestler is the fifth youngest ozeki in sumo history.