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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Estonian Baruto wins promotion

Kyodo News

Estonian wrestler Baruto was promoted to sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki on Wednesday after a series of strong performances in recent tournaments.

News photo
Baltic bonanza: Estonian wrestler Baruto celebrates with his stablemates after being promoted to ozeki, the second-highest rank in the sport, on Wednesday. KYODO PHOTO

The Japan Sumo Association unanimously endorsed Baruto's promotion at an executive committee meeting convened after the 25-year-old compiled a 14-1 record at last week's Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, where his only defeat came at the hands of lone yokozuna and eventual championship winner Hakuho.

Wrestling at sumo's third rank of sekiwake, Baruto, whose real name is Kaido Hoovelson, went 9-6 at the Kyushu basho in November and followed up with a 12-3 showing in January at the New Year meet.

His record in Osaka saw him surpass the JSA's loosely set requirement for ozeki promotion of 33 to 34 wins over three consecutive tournaments.

"I want to be cheerful and be an ozeki who can live up to the expectations of the fans," Baruto said after officials were sent by the sport's governing body to convey the decision.

"Unless I win a championship I can't move up to yokozuna. I just have to target winning a title," he said.

Baruto, whose cheerful disposition and quirky sense of humor has won him an increasing number of fans, becomes the eighth foreign-born ozeki and second European wrestler after Bulgarian grappler Kotooshu to attain the rank.

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