SUMO/ Ichinojo recalls Mongolia’s ‘long road’ to 1st career title
A triumphant Ichinojo reflected on the many years since he took a flight to Japan from his native Mongolia with another budding young sumo wrestler who would rise to the top of the sport.
On July 24, the former Ichinojo finally got the better of yokozuna Terunofuji, his compatriot and fellow traveler, to claim his first championship, which he had been seeking for a long time since his professional debut in 2014.
“It was indeed a long road until I won the title,” the No. 2 maegashira said in an online press conference on July 25.
Ichinojo, who is 192 centimeters tall and weighs 211 kilograms, won the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament with a 12-3 record the day before.
Ichinojo and Terunofuji, the lone yokozuna, entered the final day of the 15-day tournament at Dolphins Arena in Nagoya tied at 11-3.
In a previous fight, Ichinojo improved to 12-3 with a win over Ura, maegashira #3, putting pressure on Terunofuji, who was in the final fight of the day.
Ichinojo, 29, avoided the playoffs as the 30-year-old yokozuna lost to ozeki Takakeisho, finishing with an 11-4 record.
After arriving in Japan in 2010, Ichinojo and Terunofuji attended Tottori Johoku High School in Tottori Prefecture, known for its strong sumo team, before advancing to the professional ranks.
“It was the first time I faced yokozuna Terunofuji for the championship,” Ichinojo said. “I hadn’t done well and I couldn’t top him for a long time. But I could this time and I’m happy to succeed.