Harumafuji was on cloud nine Monday after back-to-back Emperor’s Cup victories virtually guaranteed the Mongolian ozeki promotion to sumo’s highest rank of yokozuna.
Harumafuji defeated Hakuho in a thrilling final bout at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Sunday and finished with a flawless 15-0 record for the second consecutive basho. With successive championship wins the 28-year-old fulfilled the requirement set by the Japan Sumo Association for a move up to yokozuna.
“I wasn’t only focused on getting the right result every day, I just wanted to make sure I had no regrets about the way I wrestled,” Harumafuji told a press conference. “I have never in my dreams (seen myself at yokozuna rank). I feel like I am a god above the clouds.”
Harumafuji is set to become the 70th yokozuna in sumo history and the first since Hakuho was promoted in May 2007. Hakuho has been the only yokozuna in the elite makuuchi division since Asashoryu retired in February 2010.
Harumafuji said a few words from his stablemaster Isegahama before he won his second career title at the Nagoya tournament last year had motivated him to aim for the top.
“If you are content with being ozeki then it is all over. You do not become a yokozuna just by wanting to be a yokozuna,” Harumafuji quoted Isegahama as saying.
The Yokozuna Deliberation Council is to meet later in the day to recommend Harumafuji’s promotion. His move up to yokozuna was set to be finalized at a JSA board meeting on Wednesday.
“I want to refine myself and keep doing my best,” said Harumafuji.