Mitakeumi speaks during an online news conference on Monday, a day after he won the New Year Basho to secure a promotion to ozeki. | KYODO

Mitakeumi had to reach new level to claim title at New Year Basho

PICTURE GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE).


Sekiwake Mitakeumi stated Monday he battled with a new-found intensity at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, where he clinched his third Emperors Cup and a promo to ozeki.The 29-year-old Mitakeumi beat the sports sole yokozuna, Mongolian-born juggernaut Terunofuji, in the last bout of the 15-day meet Sunday at Ryogoku Kokugikan to take the title with a 13-2 record.Mitakeumi began the day with a one-win lead over Terunofuji and 2 other wrestlers, and a loss to the imposing yokozuna would have led to a playoff to identify the championship.But after a preliminary tussle, Mitakeumi managed to penetrate his taller opponents defense and require him over the edge.” I had the ability to wrestle (at the competition) with an unprecedented spirit,” Mitakeumi stated during an online news conference.The Nagano Prefecture local has actually held the third-highest rank of sekiwake over the previous four meets. His promo to the second-highest rank of ozeki is a formality, as he has attained the Japan Sumo Associations standard of 33 wins throughout three tournaments.According to the JSA, he will be the first ozeki from Nagano in 227 years, with Edo Period (1603-1868) excellent Raiden the last wrestler from the central Japan prefecture to hold the rank.” Im actually pleased that even individuals unfamiliar with sumo will hear the name Raiden,” Mitakeumi said.The JSA board will make Mitakeumis promo official at an amazing conference on Wednesday.The powerfully built grapplers climb is a welcome advancement for the association following the recent retirement of yokozuna Hakuho, now a sumo older under the name Magaki, and issues within the ozeki rank.Both current ozeki, Takakeisho and Shodai, will begin the next competition with demotion-threatened kadoban status. The former missed out on the majority of the New Year meet through injury, while the latter posted a losing record of 6-9, his most current in a series of below average performances.Mitakeumi seemed on the path to ozeki promo after winning his first top-division champion as a sekiwake in July 2018, but a subsequent run of inconsistent outcomes saw him bounce up and down in the rankings.He won his second top-division title in September 2019, again as a sekiwake, however when again stopped working to follow up with the triumphes needed for promotion.Having lastly reached the target while winning his third Emperors Cup, Mitakeumi is concentrated on continuing his climb towards the highest rank of yokozuna.” There is still one greater level to reach, so I have to make that my goal,” he said.

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