Asanoyama: ‘I’m Aiming To Win The Tournament’

His goals remain the same, but due to officially becoming an ozeki, Asanoyama isn’t taking anything lightly.

Following an 11-4 run in March’s Grand Sumo Tournament, the 26-year-old was promoted to the second-highest level in sumo. This comes after the retirement of Goeido, as Asanoyama joins Takakeisho as the only ozeki in sumo. With the realization that his status in the sport is different now, Asanoyama is ready to prove himself worthy.

“I’ve achieved one of my goals, which is to become ozeki,” Asanoyama stated to The Japan Times. “Seeing the banzuke, reality hit me again. It made me want to become a better leader in the sport and bring excitement to the sumo world.”

While he fell short of 33 wins over three tournaments, Asanoyama does have impressive runs. Asanoyama went 11-4 in November and 10-5 in January to go along with March’s 11-4 record. He is tied for the second-fewest tournament runs before becoming an ozeki, after just three times competing. An Emperor’s Cup winner, Asanoyama is the first ozeki from Toyama in eleven years. He will now look to start a run of tournament wins to reach yokozuna status.

One issue that may halt his journey is the coronavirus. The March Grand Sumo Tournament was able to continue without fans. Just recently, it was announced that the May and July Grand Sumo Tournament’s have been moved to later dates. If the pandemic continues to worsen, the Japan Sumo Association might have to make a tough decision. Asanoyama is ready for whatever the JSA has in store.

“I’ll just follow the (JSA’s) decision (on the summer meet). I can’t aim for the top (rank of yokozuna) if I’m not in contention for the championship. I’m aiming to win the tournament,” Asanoyama went on to say.

With a win over a yokozuna already, Asanoyama is confident in his ability. He will look to take out competition one by one, including another yokozuna in Hakuho, the March tournament winner.

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