Sumo

Takayasu set for spotlight as ozeki at Nagoya meet

Kyodo

The Japan Sumo Association released the banzuke rankings list for the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday, with the spotlight set to be cast on newly promoted ozeki Takayasu at the July 9-23 meet.

Takayasu’s promotion to sumo’s second-highest rank last month completes a respectable banzuke for the basho at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, with four yokozuna and three ozeki set to face off for the first time since the spring meet in 2000.

The 27-year-old Takayasu, whose father is Japanese and whose mother is from the Philippines, is the first new ozeki since Mongolian Terunofuji was promoted for the Nagoya meet in 2015.

“It’s a happy feeling, the weight of responsibility,” he told reporters at his stable’s training base in Aichi Prefecture. “I’m locked in.

“I want to show how much I’ve improved, even if it’s just in one area or two. I’m aspiring to show dignified sumo, where I take opponents head on and leave a powerful impression on spectators.”

His promotion comes six months after his Tagonoura stablemate Kisenosato reached the sport’s highest rank of yokozuna.

Former amateur yokozuna Mitakeumi has also moved up a rank, with the 24-year-old set to make his debut at sumo’s third-highest rank of sekiwake.

At the top of the sumo ladder, yokozuna Hakuho will be looking to win his second straight title and extend his all-time championship record to 39 in the process after winning the summer meet in May with a spotless 15-0 record.

Hakuho will be fighting in his 60th tournament, surpassing late yokozuna Chiyonofuji for second place on the all time list.

He starts the tournament just 11 shy of the all-time record for match victories.

Kisenosato is poised to return to action after pulling out midway through the summer basho due to injury, as will fellow yokozuna Kakuryu, who also withdrew hurt.

“I’ve been sparring and training for more than a week now,” Kisenosato said. “Now it’s up to me to increase my precision. My focus is on preparing for the first day.”

Tamawashi will be making his fourth straight appearance at sekiwake.

Sadanoumi, Nishikigi, Chiyomaru and Gagamaru will all be back in the top makuuchi division for the Nagoya Basho, but there will be no upper-division debutants for the first time since the 2015 Summer meet.