Now on the verge of setting yet another record, Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho has dreamed of obtaining Japanese citizenship and remaining in the sumo world after he retires, an informed source has said.
On Thursday, Hakuho equaled the record for career matches won, tying Kaio's record of 1,047. When he sets the new mark, it will be just another barrier broken for the son of a Mongolian wrestling legend.
Upon retirement, wrestlers often seek to stay in the sport as a sumo elder, with foreign stars often taking up Japanese citizenship in order to qualify. Yet, despite having won more grand sumo tournaments than any other wrestler, Hakuho is said to have been conflicted about changing citizenship because of his father's status as a Mongolian hero.
Still, Hakuho, whose real name is Munkhbat Davajargal, has repeatedly said, "Not only is Japan the country that nurtured me, but I simply love sumo."
Seven years ago, when the sumo world was in peril over a gambling scandal, the yokozuna established the Hakuho Cup, a children's sumo tournament for foreign and domestic wrestlers.
But regardless of his achievements in the ring and beyond, and his historic status, Japan Sumo Association rules still requires every sumo elder to be a Japanese citizen.
While there had been rumors about Hakuho's hinting about a special rule that would allow him to become a sumo elder while maintaining Mongolian citizenship, a sumo association official said that is no longer an issue.
"The days when he desired that are past," the official said. "The yokozuna is now thinking about this in the proper fashion."
Prior to this Nagoya tournament, Hakuho expressed his hopes for his future legacy.
"The sumo wrestler is today's samurai," he said. "I want the children to know that during the Heisei era, a wrestler named Hakuho left his mark all over the record books."
The grand champion is now 47 away from 1,000 wins in sumo's elite makuuchi division. If he wins in Nagoya, he'll be just one away from 40 grand tournament championships, a figure beyond the reach of any wrestler before him.
And until that day comes when he does turn his thoughts to training new wrestlers to walk his path, Hakuho will continue on the raised ring and in the spotlight.