Sumo wrestler Kotonowaka promoted to ozeki

Japanese sumo wrestler Kotonowaka has been promoted to the second highest rank of ozeki.

The Japan Sumo Association made the decision at an extraordinary meeting of its board of directors on Wednesday.

Kotonowaka won 9 bouts as a new sekiwake in last year's September Grand Sumo tournament, as well as 11 bouts in the following November tournament.

He vied for the Emperor's Cup in the New Year's tournament that ended on Sunday, having won 13 bouts.

That gave him more than 33 wins in his three most recent tournaments as a sekiwake, which is the benchmark for becoming an ozeki.

Kotonowaka is the first new ozeki since Hoshoryu was promoted to the rank after last year's July tournament.

After the board's decision, two envoys from the sumo association visited the Sadogatake stable in Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture, to convey the news.

Kotonowaka said he will devote himself to sumo with a sense of gratitude, in order to become worthy of the title of ozeki.

He later told reporters he had been nervous since the previous day, and when he met the envoys he found himself at a loss for words for a moment.

Kotonowaka pointed out he had watched many wrestlers from the same stable be promoted to ozeki, and he is grateful that he has been able to put himself in that position.