Sekiwake Terunofuji was officially promoted back to sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki by the Japan Sumo Association board of directors on Wednesday.
The re-promotion is a significant moment in the 29-year-old Mongolian’s comeback from injury, coming 10 years after his tournament debut in May 2011 and almost four years since he lost the ozeki status he secured after winning the May 2015 tournament.
“I accept with humility. Thank you very much,” Terunofuji said in his kojo stage speech, a custom for wrestlers newly promoted to the rank, upon meeting the messengers who delivered the news.
On Sunday, Terunofuji, whose real name is Gantulga Ganerdene, won the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament with a 13-2 record for his third-career title, virtually guaranteeing promotion to ozeki.
The generally accepted standard for ozeki promotion is a total of 33 wins over three consecutive tournaments, and Terunofuji piled up 36 wins in the three most recent events.
The last time Terunofuji held the ozeki rank, he did so for 14 tournaments, but he was demoted to sekiwake for the November 2017 meet after posting a losing record in two straight basho.
“I realize I’m back in the position I was before. (The first time I became ozeki) I was purely happy, but this time I feel relieved that I finally got here,” Terunofuji said.