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Saturday, March 25, 2006
Mongolian Hakuho virtually assured of promotion to ozeki
OSAKA (Kyodo) Mongolian sekiwake Hakuho on Friday all but secured promotion to ozeki after posting his 12th win to stay tied for the lead at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
The 21-year-old's promotion to sumo's second-highest rank is expected to be approved at a Japan Sumo Association executive board meeting on Wednesday, paving the way for him to make his ozeki debut at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in May.
"I'm very pleased, what else can I say?" said Hakuho, who bounced back from his first defeat to post a hard-fought win over fellow sekiwake Kotomitsuki in Friday's bout.
"Today I was a little bit too cautious. I want to show my brand of wrestling over the next two days and hopefully it will put me in good stead for the next tournament."
Hakuho, whose real name is Munkhbat Davaajargal, would become the fourth youngest wrestler in modern sumo history to be promoted to ozeki after Takanohana, Taiho and current JSA Chairman Kitanoumi, who all went on to be come yokozuna legends.
"He has posted strong results over the last two tournaments and has wrestled solidly. Two defeats in a row would have looked bad and his win today was key and the rest will be put to a decision by the (JSA) judges committee (whether to recommend his promotion)," said Kitanoumi.
The son of Mexico Olympic freestyle wrestling silver medalist Munkhbat Jigjid, Hakuho is the second Mongolian after grand champion Asashoryu and first foreign wrestler to reach ozeki since Bulgarian Kotooshu achieved the feat at the Kyushu meet last November.
The Miyagino stable wrestler made his debut on the raised ring in 2001 and entered sumo's top makuuchi division three years later.
Hakuho holds a 12-1 record at the spring meet and shares the lead with Asashoryu, who he beat on Wednesday, with two days of competition remaining at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium.