Sumo's elite makuuchi division is set to feature its first wrestler from Kazakhstan following the promotion of 25-year-old Kinbozan in the latest rankings released Monday by the Japan Sumo Association.
The 192-centimeter, 174-kilogram grappler is scheduled to debut in the top division as a No. 14 maegashira at the March 12-26 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Edion Arena Osaka.
Kinbozan, whose real name is Baltagul Yersin, expressed delight after becoming the first from his country to ascend to sumo's top tier.
"I want to wrestle my own style of sumo in makuuchi," said Kinbozan, who belongs to the Kise stable.
With two lower-division championships already under his belt, the powerful pusher and thruster needed just three tournaments in the second-tier juryo division to secure promotion to makuuchi.
He said he drew extra motivation from a 10-day visit to Kazakhstan earlier this month after learning that his mother had been feeling unwell.
After seeing her for the first time in around a year, he returned to Japan feeling he "wants to become stronger."
Kinbozan's rapid rise may have brought him under the spotlight, but the rank-and-file wrestler remains modest about his goals.
"Firstly, I want to avoid injury, then do my best to win," he said.