Former Japan Sumo Association chairman Kitanoumi is all but certain to return to the governing body’s top post, sources told Kyodo News on Wednesday.
The 58-year-old Kitanoumi will replace Hanaregoma, who will step down as part of Monday’s JSA board reshuffle since he reaches the retirement age of 65 in February 2013.
Kitanoumi will be the 12th JSA chairman and the first one to hold the position for a second time.
The former grand champion is set to announce his candidacy as an executive board member and is certain to be elected as head of the board even if the selection goes down to a vote due to a lack of strong contenders, the sources said on condition of anonymity.
Previously, Kitanoumi was the ninth JSA chief. He assumed the post in February 2002 and resigned in September 2008 to take the blame for a series of marijuana scandals that ended in the dismissals of three Russian wrestlers and one Japanese wrestler.
In April 2011, Kitanoumi dropped out of the JSA executive board after juryo wrestler Kiyoseumi, who belonged to his stable, was found to have been involved in match fixing.