Mongolia

Sumo: Shin-Ozeki Kirishima’s long-awaited trip to Mongolia

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Mongolian-born sumo wrestler Kirishima, a newly promoted Ozeki wrestler, waves goodbye before leaving Japan for his first trip to Mongolia in four years at Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, June 5, 2023. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo News) – Kirishima Oseki left Narita Airport near Tokyo on Monday for his native Mongolia after advancing to sumo’s second-highest division.

The 27-year-old, who wrestled under the name Kiribayama before becoming an Ozeki last month, has not returned to Mongolia for four years due to travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

“It’s really cool,” Kirishima said. “I’m going to meet family, relatives and friends I haven’t seen in a long time, so I want to slowly catch up with everyone.”

The spring grand sumo champion returned home to become the sixth Mongolian-born wrestler, behind yokozuna, to receive the honor.

He was promoted after a string of good results, including a recent 11-4 finish at the Summer Grand Sumo Championships at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

Kirishima plans to travel from Wednesday to his hometown in Dornold province, about 700 kilometers east of the capital Ulaanbaatar, where he will be greeted warmly.

“It might be a little bit of a mini-festival,” he said.

The 186cm, 143kg wrestler was only able to get an economy class ticket after booking his trip at short notice, but said he was able to get a seat with enough room.

He is scheduled to return to Japan on June 14 and plans to attend the Arashio stable training camp in Nagano, central Japan, in preparation for the Nagoya Grand Sumo Championships starting July 9.

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