New Year Grand Sumo Tournament winner Takakeisho pledged Friday to fight hard at the next tourney in March to earn promotion to yokozuna.

"I want to pull off what I've been doing," the 26-year-old ozeki said at an annual "setsubun" bean-throwing event in Tokyo, held for the first time in three years amid the continued spread of coronavirus infections. "All I'll do is fight hard."

Takakeisho attends an annual "setsubun" bean-throwing event in Tokyo on Feb. 3, 2023. (Kyodo)

The Spring Grand Sumo Tournament begins March 12 at Edion Arena Osaka, where Takakeisho will bid for yokozuna promotion.

Takakeisho, who won his third career top-division title in January with a 12-3 record, shook hands with each of the event's participants from the public.

"I'm thankful to be cheered by fans. Traditional events in Japan are important for sumo wrestlers," Takakeisho said, referring to sumo's historic place among setsubun celebrations, which traditionally marked the coming of spring.

After winning the New Year meet on Jan. 22, Takakeisho resumed training nine days later and has worked foremost on building his physical strength.

"I celebrated my title victory only on that day," Takakeisho said. "I told myself the following day (preparation for) the next tournament had begun."

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