New ozeki Goeido nervous but ready to do battle

Kyodo

Newly promoted ozeki Goeido, who has joined two other Japanese-born wrestlers at sumo’s second-highest rank, admits to being a bundle of nerves but says he is braced for the battle ahead at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday at his Sakaigawa Stable in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, Goeido said, “I am in a position where there will always be pressure to win. I feel very tense.”

The 28-year-old Osaka native has been on the road to recovery since damaging his left meniscus near the end of the Nagoya basho in July. He missed a summer regional tour in August so that he could focus on treating the injury.

“It’s getting better day by day,” said Goeido, who said he is paying particular attention to gaining the edge with a sharp tachiai, or initial charge, although his sparring training sessions are still a few days off.

“I’ve never had a good experience when I rush, so the main thing I’ve thought about is thoroughly healing the injury,” he said.

The Sept. 14-28 tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan hopes to provide some intriguing mashups in the raised ring, pitting three Mongolian-born yokozuna against three Japanese-born ozeki.

Retired former ozeki Tochiazuma, who won a title in January 2006, is the last wrestler from Japan to win a championship.

“I understood (when I won 12 bouts) in Nagoya that fighting with a strong feeling brings about good results. I am just ready to give my all and shoot for the championship,” said Goeido

Goeido, whose promotion ceremony was nearly a month ago, said he has already gotten used to being called ozeki.

He also can’t complain about the extra perks, like being able to enter and leave through the basement parking area at Ryogoku Kokugikan reserved for the elite ozeki and yokozuna.

“When I was a new apprentice in sumo I used to think, ‘Wow, that’s cool!’ I am very happy,” he said.