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Musashimaru to be promoted to yokozuna
Posted: Monday May 24, 1999 05:49 PM
TOKYO (AP) -- Hawaii-born sumo wrestler has been recommended for promotion to yokozuna, the top rank in the traditional Japanese sport, a special committee of sumo experts said Monday.
The final decision would be up to sumo's board of directors who are meeting on Wednesday.
The committee, an advisory body to the Japan Sumo Association, made the unanimously decision one day after Musashimaru pushed out yokozuna Akebono to win the 15-day Summer Grand Sumo Tournament with a 13-2 record.
That was the fifth tournament title for the 190-centimeters (6 foot-3 inches) 222 kilogram (488 pound) Musashimaru.
"There was some criticism of how he starts the matches, but all eight attending members expressed their approval to the promotion," committee chairman Kazuo Ichiriki told a news conference.
Musashimaru, or Fiamalu Penitani, who already holds the second highest rank of ozeki, or champion, also won the previous tournament in a 13-2 record. Winning two consecutive tournaments as ozeki is one of the key requirements for promotion to yokozuna.
Upon final approval, Musashimaru, 28, officially will become the 67th yokozuna, or grand champion -- only the second foreign-born yokozuna following Hawaii-born Akebono, or Chad Rowan, who reached that rank in January 1993.
"I'm happy to hear the news. I'd never dreamed of becoming yokozuna," Musashimaru said.
Penitani, who came to Japan in 1989 to become a sumo wrestler, won promotion to ozeki in 1994 and became a Japanese citizen in 1996.Musashimaru will join Akebono, Wakanohana and Takanohana as yokozuna in the July 4-18 tournament in Nagoya, central Japan.
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