After a record-breaking two-decade career in the ring, Hakuho, sumo’s greatest champion, says he will retire at 36, citing injuries and his advanced age.
The Mongolian-born wrestler, whose birth name is Monkhbatyn Davaajargal, announced his decision to withdraw from the Japan Sumo Association on Monday, according to Hironori Yano, head of the Yokozuna association’s deliberative council.
Over the course of his career, Hakuho, who stands over 6 feet 3 inches (1.92 meters) and weighs just over 340 pounds (155 kilograms), claimed “virtually all records and set marks in the sport. national Japanese national government which will likely remain intact for decades, “according to the Kyodo news agency.
However, despite a career that saw a record 45 major sumo tournament titles, Hakuho had struggled in recent months during training, Kyodo said.
Injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic had caused him to miss six straight 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 from his Miyagino team were forced to withdraw from the fall tournament due to several coronavirus infections in the team, according to the news agency.
Hakuho, whose father won silver in freestyle wrestling at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, began his career at the age of 15. He quickly rose through the ranks, winning a second tier title in three years and reaching the top sumo division just a few months later, according to the Japan Times. After his promotion in 2007 to yokozuna, the highest ranking sumo player, Hakuho started a nine-year streak in which he won or finished second in 49 of 52 tournaments, according to the newspaper.
Since becoming a Japanese citizen in 2019, Hakuho has the right to run his own team. But his immediate plans are to stay in Miyagino as an instructor of young wrestlers, according to Kyodo.