Mongolian becomes oldest to win first sumo title
TOKYO (AFP) –
Mongolian-born Kyokutenho on Sunday became the oldest wrestler in modern times to win his first career sumo title, beating the previous record set in 1929.
The 37-year-old slapped down Tochiozan, 12 years his junior, in the play-off for the Emperor’s Cup after they stood level with 12 wins and three losses at the end of the regular 15-day tournament.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Kyokutenho, real name Nyamjavyn Tsevegnyam, told a cheering crowd at Tokyo’s Kokugikan Hall after lifting the cup in an award ceremony. “It was really heavy.”
“I think it was tears of joy,” said the behemoth, who stands 191cm (6ft 3in) tall and weighs 158kg (348 pounds), when asked why he left the ring in tears.
Before him, Toyokuni was the oldest wrestler to win his first career title since sumo was first organised by a national association in the mid-1920s. Toyokuni achieved the feat at the age of 35 in 1929.
Kyokutenho arrived in Japan in 1992 with the first group of Mongolians to join Japan’s traditional sport. He obtained Japanese nationality in 2005.
Sumo has become increasingly dominated by non-Japanese with Kyokutenho the 10th foreign-born wrestler and the fourth Mongolian to win a tournament.