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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Lives Matter protester stands alone in Vernon

Rumblings of a citywide protest continue across social media platforms

Water restrictions in place for Armstrong

City of Armstrong switches water source to wells, still safe to use

Youth recreation programs making a comeback in Enderby

Enderby and District Recreation Services is offering three youth programs for the month of June

Burned out car be gone thanks to Vernon dealership, ski resort

Bannister GM Vernon and SilverStar Mountain Resort team up in road cleanup

Vernon high school football stars ready for the next level

Four members of the VSS Panthers will be entering the University of Calgary football program

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Police seek help identifying person of interest in Salmon Arm arson investigation

A fire in a garage was extinguished but it is being treated as an arson.

Penticton Search and Rescue respond to six calls in less than a week

Two hikers rescued in early morning search near Greyback Lake latest in series of searches

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

In photos: Modified, yet traditional graduation gives Penticton graduates a sense of normalcy

Students around Penticton take part in pre-recorded graduation ceremonies

Filming to resume safely later in June: Okanagan Film Commission

Film commissioner Jon Summerland said they want to start filming again later in June

Kelowna RCMP investigate woman’s sudden death

Criminality is not suspected at this time, according to RCMP

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Most Read