Former ozeki Terunofuji completed a stunning comeback to the top division Aug. 2 by clinching the July Grand Sumo Tournament with a final-day victory over sekiwake Mitakeumi.
By winning the penultimate bout on Day 15, the 28-year-old, fighting as a rank-and-file No. 17 maegashira, finished with a 13-2 record at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan and avoided a tiebreaking playoff.
A loss would have seen the Mongolian fall into a three-way tie with Mitakeumi (11-4) and ozeki Asanoyama (12-3), winner of the day’s final bout against sekiwake Shodai (11-4).
The native of Ulaanbaatar last fought in sumo’s elite makuuchi division in January 2018, before injuries to both knees and illness derailed his career. His one previous top-level championship came at the 2015 Summer Grand Tournament.
The newly crowned champion gave credit to his family, stablemates and stablemaster Isegahama for their encouragement during his long climb back through the ranks after he had considered retiring on several occasions.
“When I went down the ranks, there were people who were rooting for me: my family, my stablemaster, and all the members of my stable. Thanks to their support, I was able to come back,” he said. (Kyodo)