TOKYO -- The Japan Sumo Association board of directors decided at meeting on May 30 to promote sekiwake Tochinoshin to sumo's second-highest rank of ozeki.
A messenger from the association visited Tochinoshin's Kasugano stable and conveyed the decision to the Georgian wrestler and his stable master Kasugano. The newly minted ozeki responded in a ritualized vow and said, "I will follow the stable master's teachings, try to be a role model for other wrestlers and work hard in training."
The promotion followed Tochinoshin's 37 total wins in the last three grand sumo tournaments, including the just-completed summer tourney where he emerged victorious in 13 out of 15 bouts. His recent success in the latest competition includes a win against grand champion yokozuna Hakuho.
The 30-year-old sumo wrestler, whose real name is Levan Gorgadze, is the first ozeki from a country in the Caucasus region, and the fourth-oldest wrestler to be promoted to the rank since 1958.