Sekiwake Asanoyama was officially promoted to sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki by the Japan Sumo Association board of directors on Wednesday.
The news provided a bright spot amid the coronavirus bleakness with Asanoyama saying in his kojo stage speech he is ready for the added responsibility and expectations ahead of May’s Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
“I will live up to my name as ozeki and love the sport of sumo, fulfill justice as a rikishi (sumo wrestler) and exert myself to the utmost,” he said.
The 26-year-old Takasago stable wrestler posted 11 wins in the March 8-22 spring meet in Osaka that was held without spectators, an extreme measure taken to contain and combat the coronavirus spread.
The wrestler said he is aiming to become a yokozuna, has already won one Emperor’s Cup, as a rank-and-filer at last year’s Summer tournament.