Sumo: Terunofuji returns to ozeki as Hakuho becomes sole yokozuna

Kyodo -- Apr 26
Terunofuji will contest the upcoming Summer Grand Sumo Tournament as an ozeki, returning to the sport's second-highest rank for the first time in 21 meets, the Japan Sumo Association confirmed Monday in the form of its latest rankings.

The 29-year-old Mongolian sealed promotion by winning the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in March with a 12-3 record, becoming the first wrestler in history to regain ozeki status after dropping as low as the fifth-tier jonidan division.

Terunofuji, who is ranked behind Takakeisho as the second west ozeki, had plummeted to jonidan in March 2019 following a host of health problems, including injuries requiring surgery on both knees.

Hakuho, who is likely to miss the May 9-23 tourney at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan after surgery on his troublesome right knee, sits on top of the rankings as the east yokozuna. He is expected to make his return in July's grand tournament.

The winner of a record 44 top-division titles, he is sumo's sole grand champion following the retirement of fellow Mongolian-born grappler Kakuryu during the March meet. It is the first time since September 2012 that only one yokozuna has sat atop the rankings.

The rankings include four ozeki for the first time since the 2019 Nagoya meet. Asanoyama leads the east ozeki ahead of Shodai, who will compete as a demotion-threatened "kadoban" after going 7-8 in March.

- Kyodo