Ozeki Harumafuji officially became the 70th yokozuna in sumo history on Wednesday after the Japan Sumo Association finalized the promotion of the Mongolian wrestler during its executive committee meeting.
JSA executives rubber-stamped the promotion of Harumafuji based on the recommendation unanimously made Monday by members of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, an advisory body to the association, after the 28-year-old wrestler secured back-to-back tournament titles with his victory at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament last week at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
“I accept this humbly,” Harumafuji said. “With the awareness of what it means to be a yokozuna, I will devote my body and soul to the way of sumo. Because I am who I am, all I can do is give my all in my own way. I want to get the most out of each and every day.
“I am full of gratitude. My desire to put forth a greater effort has gotten stronger. These past two days have been like a dream.”
Harumafuji, whose real name is Davaanyam Byambadorj, became the first yokozuna since compatriot Hakuho was promoted after the summer basho in May 2007.
Hakuho has been wrestling as the lone yokozuna in the premier makuuchi division since Asashoryu retired in February 2010 after assaulting a man outside a Tokyo nightclub. He will now be joined at the top by Harumafuji beginning at the Kyushu meet in Fukuoka in November.
A native of Ulan Bator, Harumafuji underlined his yokozuna credentials after clinching his fourth career title with a perfect 15-0 record that included an epic final-day win over Hakuho on Sunday. He had set up his third bid for promotion to yokozuna by also going unbeaten en route to the Nagoya title in July.
A relative lightweight known for his speed, particularly at the tachi-ai, or initial charge, Harumafuji is the fifth foreign-born yokozuna, following in the footsteps of Akebono from Hawaii, Samoan-born Musashimaru, Asashoryu and Hakuho.
“This (becoming a yokozuna) was a dream that was distant, very distant,” Harumafuji said. “I think I have been very fortunate.
“That this has come to pass is due to all the support I have received from various quarters. I am very happy that I have been able to repay a small amount of my debt of gratitude.”