Yokozuna council recommends Kakuryu for promotion

Kyodo

The Japan Sumo Association’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council unanimously recommended ozeki Kakuryu for promotion to sumo’s top rank on Monday after claiming his first career title at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kakuryu needed the nod from at least two-thirds of the council after lifting the Emperor’s Cup on the final day of the spring basho on Sunday.

“I couldn’t have gotten here on my own effort. I want to give my appreciation to all of the people who were involved,” said Kakuryu, who at 28 years, 7 months, is the seventh oldest to attain the top rank since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958.

“I am not sure how I should be (as a yokozuna), but I want to try to just be myself,” he said.

The Mongolian-born wrestler, whose birth name is Mangaljalav Anand, is all but set to be named as the 71st yokozuna after posting a 14-1 record at the Osaka meet, including wins over yokozuna Harumafuji and Hakuho, for the second consecutive tournament.

The JSA will rubber-stamp Kakuryu’s promotion on Wednesday when it determines the rankings for the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in May, followed by a meeting of the JSA executive board.

Kakuryu, who belongs to the Izutsu stable, will be the fourth Mongolian to be promoted to yokozuna after Asashoryu, Hakuho and Harumafuji. He will be the sixth foreign-born wrestler to achieve the sport’s top rank.

“It was a unanimous vote (to recommend him for yokozuna),” said JSA chairman Kitanoumi, who was re-elected to another two-year term the same day. “I am convinced that he will really make efforts to fight to his utmost. He should feel the responsibility and awareness of being a yokozuna.”