Kisenosato Yutaka (Wikimedia Commons)

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

Grand champion Kisenosato, the only Japanese wrestler at sumo’s highest rank, has decided to retire after three straight losses at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kisenosato needed a strong start to the New Year tourney to salvage his career but wasn’t able to win in the first three days and decided to retire, his stablemaster said on Wednesday.

“I spoke to him for about 30 minutes yesterday,” stablemaster Tagonoura said. “It was his decision. He told me he could no longer perform at the level he wanted to.”

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank in March 2017. He won his second straight championship in his yokozuna debut at the following tournament.

But injuries prevented Kisenosato from completing a record eight straight grand sumo tournaments and he has not been able to live up to the high standards required of a grand champion.

Sumo has been dominated by foreign-born wrestlers in the past decade with Mongolian grand champions Asashoryu and Hakuho winning a majority of tournaments. The lack of Japanese wrestlers has been a cause for concern among sumo officials and some observers suggested Kisenosato was promoted prematurely to give the sport a Japanese yokozuna.

In addition to the lack of Japanese wrestlers at the top, the sport has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years including bullying of younger wrestlers and wrestlers gambling on professional baseball games.

Last year, the Japan Sumo Association came under fire when it ordered female first responders to leave the ring as they attempted to revive a male official who collapsed at an event in northern Kyoto.

The sumo ring, or dohyo, is considered sacred in the male-only sport. Women are banned from entering it because they are seen as “ritually unclean.”

Kisenosato made his professional sumo debut in March 2002 and joined the top division in 2004.

Jim Armstrong, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson goes green for Earth Day

Environment friendly initiatives were promoted at the annual event

Forester’s video animation helps explain Nelson’s wildfire risks

John Cathro’s video shows who owns land in and around Nelson

‘Surrounding a community with a fire break won’t help’

RDCK offers fire danger assessments to homeowners

Carfentanil found for first time in Castlegar

Killer opiod found in local illegal drug market

LETTER: 140,000 jobs are at risk

From reader Robert MacCrae

VIDEO: Nelson students paint Parachutes for the Planet

The youth-led initiative lobbies governments for climate change action

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Deadly synthetic drug found in Kamloops that puts users in ‘zombielike’ state

Interior Health warning says substance causes ‘speedy, trippy-like symptoms’ and hallucinations

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

Most Read