• Kyodo


Harumafuji says the criticism over his lackluster yokozuna debut in November made him determined to bounce back and win the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Japan Sumo Association’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council had said Harumafuji would need to post double-digit wins here or face a “recommendation for early retirement,” after his poor 9-6 showing in Fukuoka.

But the Mongolian came back with a bang and made his detractors choke on their words, capturing his third Emperor’s Cup in four meets on Sunday — all with flawless 15-0 records — after shooting down yokozuna rival Hakuho in the final bout of the 15-day basho.

“Those kind of (critical) words can fire you up,” Harumafuji said Monday. “I looked at it in a positive way. I gave it my all and was focused in each and every bout and that is what yielded the result.”

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