New ozeki struggling to come to terms with promotion


One night after securing promotion to sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki, Kotoshogiku was sitting on cloud nine and still wondering how he got there.

The Sadogatake sekiwake, who finished the Autumn basho on Sunday with 12 wins and will formally be promoted after an executive meeting and conference to decide the rankings for the Kyushu basho on Wednesday, said the achievement surpassed his wildest dreams.

“For me, ozeki was like an insurmountable mountain. It will be a dream for me to hold this rank,” Kotoshogiku said Monday at a press conference at his Sadogatake stable in Chiba Prefecture.

The 27-year-old was flooded with congratulatory text messages on Sunday night. The Fukuoka native is expected to receive a hero’s welcome at the Kyushu tournament in November.

“I was restless and didn’t sleep much but I woke up quite refreshed,” said Kotoshogiku, who will be the first Japanese to assume the ozeki rank in four years.

“I want to be careful about my behavior and the comments I make from now on and work hard for the Japan Sumo Association,” he said.

Kotoshogiku will deliver a speech at his promotion ceremony on Wednesday. “I have asked for advice on the speech from an acquaintance, but ultimately I will decide what I will say.”

Stablemaster Sadogatake said the next goal is to encourage Kotoshogiku to aim for sumo’s ultimate prize of yokozuna.

“This is just the launching point. I want to push him to go one step higher,” Sadogatake said.