Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho said Monday he wants to give himself a treat for the feats he accomplished at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
A day after the 15-day tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan came to an end, the yokozuna said it felt impossible at first to claim his record 41st championship with a perfect 15-0 record or win his 1,000th bout in the sport’s top division.
“Considering my condition before the tournament, it was literally just a dream,” the 33-year-old Miyagino stable wrestler told a traditional morning-after news conference.
“(On winning 1,000 bouts) I thought children who hope to take up the sport in the future will work very hard if they have a goal,” he said. “I want to give myself a treat for this.”
Hakuho won his first championship in a year that has seen him struggle with injuries. He withdrew from three of the five meets held this year, his 12th in the sport’s highest rank.
Perhaps the bout that attracted the most attention came on the 13th day against fellow yokozuna Kisenosato, who was fighting for his career after withdrawing due to injury from a record eight-straight tournaments.
Hakuho improved his record to 44-16 against Kisenosato, the first Japan-born yokozuna in 19 years. In their 60th career meeting on Friday, Hakuho took control at the outset and muscled his opponent to the straw and shoved him out.
“I think he did a fine job (at the meet),” Hakuho said of his 32-year-old longtime rival, who finished at 10-5 and completed a full tournament for the first time since the 2017 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
“He is someone who will propel the sport to greater prosperity. I want him to experience more (as a yokozuna),” Hakuho said.
After beating Kisenosato, Hakuho defeated ozeki Goeido and yokozuna Kakuryu en route to claiming his record 14th championship with a perfect record.
The victory meant even more because it was his first since his father and Mongolian sumo yokozuna, Jigjid Munkhbat, passed away at the age of 76 in April.
To Hakuho, his father, who competed in wrestling at five Olympics and won silver at the 1968 Mexico City Games, had been a role model both in and out of the ring.
Hakuho’s next goal is to keep wrestling until the next Summer Games in Tokyo, where his father made his Olympic debut in 1964.
“People can double their strength if they are doing their best for somebody else,” Hakuho said. “I know that parents are most proud when their children are working hard.”