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After a record-breaking two-decade career in the ring, Hakuho, sumo’s greatest champion, said he would retire at age 36, citing injuries and his advanced age.
The Mongolian -born wrestler, whose birth name is Monkhbatyn Davaajargal, announced his decision to retire from the Japan Sumo Association on Monday, according to Hironori Yano, the head of the organization’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council.
Over his career, Hakuho, who stood more than 6 feet, 3 inches tall (1.92 meters) and weighed more than 340 pounds (155 kilograms), claimed to be “almost every record player, and set Japan’s national sport scores are likely to remain untouched for decades, ”according to Kyodo news agency.
However, despite a career that has seen a record 45 grand sumo tournament titles, Hakuho has struggled in recent months in training, Kyodo said.
COVID-19’s injuries and pandemic caused him to miss six consecutive tournaments, but he returned to the ring in July, winning the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament with a perfect 15-0 record. However, he and 17 other wrestlers at his stable in Miyagino were forced to bend over from late fall due to multiple coronavirus infections in the stable, the news agency said.
Hakuho, whose father won silver in freestyle wrestling at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, began his career at age 15. He quickly rose through the ranks, winning a second tier title in three years and reaching the top division. in sumo just a few months later, according to The Japan Times. Following his promotion in 2007 to yokozuna, the highest ranked in sumo, Hakuho started nine years in a row where he won or finished second in 49 of 52 tournaments, the newspaper said.
Since becoming a Japanese citizen in 2019, Hakuho has been eligible to run his own stable. But his immediate plans are to stay with Miyagino as a coach of younger fighters, according to Kyodo.