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Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008

News photo
Ama (second from left) bows with stablemaster Isegahama and his wife as sumo officials notify the Mongolian wrestler of his promotion to ozeki on Wednesday in Fukuoka. KYODO PHOTOS

Ama gains promotion, changes ring name

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Mongolian sumo wrestler Ama earned promotion to the sport's second-highest rank, ozeki, Wednesday after a series of strong performances in recent tournaments and will wrestle with a new name, Harumafuji, beginning in January.

News photo
Ama holds up a sea bream during celebrations in Fukuoka.

The Japan Sumo Association unanimously endorsed his promotion at an executive committee meeting convened after the 24-year-old posted a 13-2 record and finished runnerup after a playoff loss to yokozuna and compatriot Hakuho at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Wrestling at the third-highest rank of sekiwake, the Isegahama stable wrestler had compiled records of 10-5 and 12-3 in July and September and coupled with his latest showing surpassed the JSA's loosely set requirement for ozeki promotion of 33 to 34 wins over three straight tournaments.

"I humbly accept (the promotion). I will continue to put my heart and soul into devoting myself to sumo," the new ozeki, whose real name is Davaanyam Byambadorj, said to the officials sent by the sport's governing body to convey the decision.

Ama is the seventh foreign-born wrestler and third Mongolian — following Asashoryu and Hakuho — to reach the rank of ozeki.

JSA Chairman Musashigawa said the executive committee delivered an undisputed verdict in giving sumo its fifth active ozeki.

"He performed remarkably in Kyushu, particularly in the second half of the tournament," Musashigawa said. "He has a small physique for an ozeki and hopefully he will develop his style of speedy, straightforward attacking sumo further."

In the New Year meet getting under way Jan. 11 at Tokyo's Ryoguku Kokugikan, Harumafuji will line up along with Kotomitsuki, Chiyotaikai, Kotooshu and Kaio one rung below Hakuho and Asashoryu.

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