With all three yokozuna falling by the wayside one by one, sekiwake Tamawashi took full advantage with a 13-2 record to win the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Jan. 27.

Along with it being the Mongolian's first career victory, the birth of his second child the same day made the triumph even more memorable.

"I could not hope for anything more," Tamawashi said in an interview afterward, calling it "saikou" (the greatest).

The veteran wrestler easily defeated Endo, a maegashira No. 9, on the last day of the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

Tamawashi, who is 34 years old and two months, became the second oldest wrestler to win his first championship since the current setup of six basho a year started in 1958.

The oldest previous wrestler was Kyokutenho, who won the 2012 Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at the age of 37 years and eight months.

It took Tamawashi 15 years to win his first title after entering his first tournament at 19.

Tamawashi’s closet pursuer in the tourney was sekiwake Takakeisho, who claimed his first Emperor’s Cup in the tournament in November at the age of 22. Takakeisho started the day one win out of the lead.

However, all Tamawashi had to do to claim his championship was collect another win, which he did with ease.

In an anticlimatic final bout, Takakeisho finished at 11-4 after ozeki Goeido overwhelmed him.

Until Day 11 of the tournament, yokozuna Hakuho was undefeated and appeared to be cruising to his record-extending 42nd title.

At that time, Tamawashi was two wins behind his fellow Mongolian wrestler, while Takakeisho stood three behind.

But after Hakuho suffered his first defeat on Day 11, he lost two more bouts in a row against Tamawashi and Takakeisho, keeping their title hopes alive.

On Day 14, both Tamawashi and Takakeisho continued to win, while Hakuho withdrew from the race due to an injury to his right knee.

This year’s first tournament opened with three yokozuna competing--Hakuho, Kakuryu and Kisenosato. However, mounting attention focused on how Kisenosato would fare as calls for his retirement were growing after having to drop out or skip numerous basho and putting up dismal results due to injury.

With three straight losses from Day 1, Kisenosato, the only Japanese yokozuna, finally decided to end his sumo career, announcing his retirement on Jan. 16. Kakuryu, another Monglian wrestler, was sidelined by injury after suffering three defeats by the end of Day 5.