Kotoshogiku promoted to Ozeki

TOKYO (Nihon Sumo Kyokai, The Japan Times) The Nihon Sumo Kyokai was proud to announce that on September 28, 2011, following a special board of directors meeting, sekiwake Kotoshogiku from Sadogatake Beya was promoted to the rank of ozeki.

Kotoshogiku was promoted to the ozeki rank after an impressive 12-3 record at the September 2011 basho. With an accumulated 33-12 win/loss record since May 2011, the Fukuoka native will receive massive support from more than a million Fukuoka inhabitants when he first steps foot on the dohyo at the Kokusai Center. Expectations are high for the local boy.

Kotoshogiku is the first Japanese to be promoted anew to the ozeki rank in over four years since former ozeki Kotomitsuki and long time ozeki Kaio (another Fukuoka native) recently retired. The eyes of a nation of sumo fans will be focused on Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro.

Strong tournament for Sadogatake beya’s front men

NAGOYA (Compiled from Kyodo) Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu had briefly given himself hope of forcing a playoff after easily barging out ozeki Harumafuji (9-6) in his final bout, but had to be content with a runnerup finish and a 13-2 record.  Hakuho beat fellow Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu in an epic finale to clinch his 11th Emperor’s Cup win on the last day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Hakuho was made to work all the way by Asashoryu (10-5) in an enthralling encounter at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, but the Miyagino stable star prevailed with a stylish underarm throw at the ring’s edge to capture the title with a 14-1 record.

In other bouts in the top ranks, Kotomitsuki (12-3) gave home fans plenty to cheer about as he broke out of a stalemate and sent out ozeki rival Kaio (8-7) from behind.

Kotoshogiku, as komusubi, scored 8-7. His win over Harumafuji in the third day of the tournament was the first fatal blow in the ozeki’s bid for promotion.

Hakuho’s only defeat at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium came from the local favorite Kotomitsuki in the 11th day.

Kotooshu ensured the title race went down to the final day with a hard-earned forceout win over yokozuna Asashoryu on Saturday.

In contention: Kotooshu beats Asashoryu Saturday to stay one win behind Hakuho at the Nagoya Basho.  KYODO PHOTO

In contention: Kotooshu beats Asashoryu Saturday to stay one win behind Hakuho at the Nagoya Basho. KYODO PHOTO

Kotooshu gunning for promotion in Nagoya

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Bulgarian Kotooshu will make his maiden voyage in a bid for promotion to yokozuna as the top-ranked ozeki as the Japan Sumo Association on Monday released the rankings for the upcoming Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kotooshu will begin his bid to join the yokozuna ranks in Nagoya 2008 tournament.

Moving on up: Kotooshu will begin his bid to join the yokozuna ranks in Nagoya 2008 tournament. KYODO PHOTO

Kotooshu, who posted an impressive 14-1 record at the summer meet in May en route to becoming the first European wrestler to capture an Emperor’s Cup, will sit in the prestigious east slot for the July 13-27 tourney at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Mongolian yokozuna pair Asashoryu and Hakuho, who were the center of controversy when they nearly came to fisticuffs after their bout on the final day of the summer basho, both finished last time out with subpar marks of 11-4 and will be hoping for redemption.

Asashoryu is seeking his 23rd Emperor’s Cup and first in two meets from the east position for the second straight meet. In Nagoya, he will hold the yokozuna rank for the 33rd tournament — eighth on the all-time list.

Hakuho is on the west side and is vying for his first championship victory since beating Asashoryu on the last day of the New Year tournament.

At the ozeki rank, Chiyotaikai will have to dig himself out of another hole as he is in danger of relegation for a record 12th time.

Kotomitsuki and Kaio both barely passed the grade with 8-7 marks at the Tokyo meet in May.

Mongolian Ama, who is at sumo’s third-highest rank of sekiwake for the fourth meet in a row, is still looking to get his promotion bid under way after finishing at 9-6 last time out.

Kotooshu claims Emperor’s Cup

Compiled from Kyodo, AP

The metamorphosis is nearly complete.

Kotooshu poses with the Emperor\'s Cup at Tokyo\'s Ryogoku Kokugikan
Banzai: Summer Grand Sumo Tournament champion Kotooshu poses with the Emperor’s Cup at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan. KYODO PHOTO

A day after becoming the first European to capture an Emperor’s Cup in the ancient Japanese sport, Kotooshu dispatched of ozeki Chiyotaikai Sunday to finish his campaign with an outstanding 14-1 record on the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Bulgarian ozeki, who entered the Tokyo meet facing demotion, did a complete about-face en route to winning his first title to join the three other ozeki in claiming the tournament hardware.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Kotooshu. “I really moved well and kept my focus on each day this meet. I struggled with injuries but I have all my fans to thank in supporting me for the title victory.”

In his final bout, Kotooshu got both hands around Chiyotaikai before forcing his opponent over the edge in convincing fashion at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Chiyotaikai fell to an unflattering 5-10 mark.

Bulgarian Ambassador Blagovest Sendov hailed Kotooshu’s victory, calling him “a national pride.”

“We Bulgarians, as well as Kotooshu, learned from sumo the importance of patience and endeavor,” Sendov was quoted as saying in a statement. “I’m certain that the victory would further deepen relations between Japan and Bulgaria.”

The litmus test for the 25-year-old Kotooshu, who has gained a reputation for “small-scale” sumo, will be staying consistent enough to continue to rain on the parades of yokozuna duo Asashoryu and Hakuho.

To get the green light for promotion to sumo’s ultimate rank, Kotooshu, who conquered both yokozuna at the 15-day meet, will have to continue winning in a big way.

Back-to-back title wins would virtually assure his ascension.

“I am not thinking about that (promotion to yokozuna). All I am concerned with is doing my best and staying focused on each day of sumo,” Kotooshu said.

In a clash of Mongolian titans, Asashoryu got a hold of rival Hakuho’s arm before pulling him off-balance to touch the dohyo surface and gave his opponent a cheeky shove after the bout was finished. The pair glared at each other before leaving the ring.

It was obviously a case of sour grapes for Asashoryu, who along with Hakuho finished with an unimpressive 11-4 mark.

Asashoryu was bidding for consecutive title wins here and his career 23rd Emperor’s Cup while Hakuho was aiming for a seventh career title.

Kisenosato, who beat Asashoryu on the opening day, rammed out Miyabiyama (6-9) to pick up his 10th win along with his second Fighting Spirit Prize.

Aminishiki, who was the only rikishi to hand Kotooshu a defeat, won his third Outstanding Performance Prize with a record of 10-5, beating Asasekiryu (6-9) on the final day.

Toyonoshima took the Fighting Spirit Prize for a second time with an 11-4 record.

Ama, who defeated Hakuho and executed an impressive “utchari” reversal throw against Wakanoho on the eighth day, won his third Technique Prize, ending his campaign at 9-6 after losing to Toyonoshima.

Kotomitsuki beat fellow ozeki Kaio as both men just passed the grade at 8-7, while Chiyotaikai, who will face relegation for a record 12th time at the Nagoya meet in July, posted double-digit defeats for the first time participating in a full meet since his debut in sumo.

Russian youngster Wakanoho barged out Hokutoriki (10-5) to finish with a majority of wins, ensuring a promotion in the rankings for the 19-year-old.

Bulgarian Ozeki Kotooshu – first European to win Emperor’s Cup

Kyodo News

Bulgarian yogurt is no longer the country’s most well-known export to Japan.

Ozeki Kotooshu forces out sekiwake Ama
Unprecedented: Ozeki Kotooshu forces out sekiwake Ama to become the first European-born sumo wrestler to win the Emperor’s Cup at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on the 14th day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament 2008. KYODO PHOTO

That honor belongs to Kotooshu, who beat Mongolian Ama on Saturday to claim the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament title with a 13-1 record and enter the history books as the first European to win an Emperor’s Cup.

The Bulgarian ozeki, whose real name is Kaloyan Mahlyanov, was a ball of nerves in falling to a first lost against Aminishiki with a chance to take home the spoils a day earlier, but made no mistakes against his diminutive sekiwake opponent on the 14th day.

Kotooshu came flying out of the crouch, getting both arms wrapped around Ama’s mawashi before tackling his opponent from behind at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Ama slipped to 9-5.

“I have no words to express. I am so happy. I finally did it,” said Kotooshu, who took 34 tournaments from his sumo debut to win the Emperor’s Cup.

Ozeki Kotooshu speaks to the media while getting his mage
Ozeki Kotooshu speaks to the media while getting his mage (top knot of hair) reshaped after winning his first Emperor’s Cup at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament 2008 at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. Kotooshu became the first European to win a sumo championship. KYODO PHOTO

Kotooshu entered the meet with one goal in mind — getting a majority of wins to maintain his ozeki status. But the 25-year-old has been on fire, conquering both yokozuna en route to matching his previous best winning streak of 12-0 as a sekiwake at the 2005 autumn basho.

“I had to put yesterday behind me and just focused on the match. I was really moved,” said Kotooshu, whose father Stefanov stood from the crowd and waved a Bulgarian flag after his son’s victory.

Kotooshu became the seventh foreign wrestler to win a title, following in the footsteps of the likes of former Hawaiian yokozuna Akebono and Musashimaru and Mongolians Asashoryu and Hakuho.

“I still can’t believe it. My mind is a blank. I am reminded of all of the hardship I’ve been through. . .,” said Kotooshu, who has struggled with “small-scale” sumo and injuries in recent years since gaining promotion to ozeki at the 2005 Kyushu meet.