International

Kisenosato is Japan’s first home-grown sumo champion in 19 years

Kisenosato (right) takes on an opponent in the ring. Source: Yavodkalove, Wikimedia Commons

Kisenosato (right) takes on an opponent in the ring. Source: Yavodkalove, Wikimedia Commons

Japan is celebrating its first home-grown sumo champion in almost two decades.

Kisenosato, who is 30, won the first tournament of the year and was promoted to the top-most yokozuna rank as a result.

After finishing as runner-up on multiple occasions, he clinched his first tournament victory this month.

The 178kg sumo wins his promotion after having been an ozeki – the second-highest rank – since 2012.

At a press conference Kisenosato said:

I accept with all humility. I will devote myself to the role and try not to disgrace the title of yokozuna.

It’s been a lean 19 years for Japanese sumos – the last to make it to the yokozuna rank was Wakanohana in 1998.

Five wrestlers from American Samoa and Mongolia have made it in the interim.

To celebrate victory, Kisenosato followed tradition by posing for photos with a giant red sea bream.

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