Takakeisho, a first-time candidate for promotion to yokozuna, leads the three ozeki in the rankings released by the Japan Sumo Association ahead of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 10 to Jan. 24.
The sport’s second-highest rank illustrates both the promise and the peril of sumo’s elite wrestlers. While Takakeisho will try to seize a second straight championship and earn a promotion, his two ozeki rivals, Shodai and Asanoyama, will have somewhat more mundane goals.
Both men failed to win eight bouts in November after they pulled out injured. Now, as demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki, Shodai and Asanoyama need at least eight wins to keep their ozeki status.