Sumo’s longest-serving yokozuna Hakuho retired last Thursday when the Japan Sumo Association’s board of directors accepted his request to end a 20-year competitive career in Japan’s ancient sport.
The Mongolian-born grand champion, winner of a record 45 grand sumo tournaments, has been dogged by injury the past few years and had surgery on his right knee in March. For the time being, he will serve as an instructor with his Miyagino stable as sumo elder Magaki.
He rose to the top ranks of sumo wrestling after arriving in Japan from his native Mongolia at the age of 15. But the 36-year-old has been plagued by a persistent knee injury and received a warning last year for “injury absences”.
During his career, Hakuho recorded more titles, wins and perfect championships than any other wrestler in history. His retirement leaves just one wrestler at the sport’s highest rank of yokozuna. Hakuho made his debut in 2001 and was promoted to yokozuna six years later.