The story of Hakuho, the sumo legend who said goodbye

The great sumo champion, Hakuho, who in twenty years of career broke almost all the records of this Japanese discipline, decided to retire from sports. The 36-year-old yokozuna – the most prestigious rank of sumo – of Mongol origin, reigned almost without rivals in this sport: he achieved a record of 45 tournaments in his entire career.

Conditioned by injuries, his participation in competitions became less frequent in recent years. Although he had won the July 2021 tournament without suffering any defeat.

“I have learned from the president of the Japan Sumo Association (AJS) that Hakuho he had sent the documents to end his career, “Hironori Yano, president of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, a body close to the AJS, announced at a press conference on Monday. Hakuho He would have decided to throw in the towel due to persistent pain in his right knee, according to local media.

Farewell to an idol

Near the Kokugikan, the venue for sumo tournaments in eastern Tokyo, some citizens paid tribute this Monday to his exceptional career. “He has missed many fights due to injuries (…), he suffered physically and is already over 30 years old. He worked very hard,” said Miyako Arai, a fan of the fighter

Hakuho He first ascended a “dohyo”, the clay platform where the fighting takes place, in 2001, shortly after his arrival from Mongolia, accessing the supreme rank of yokozuna in 2007.

His fierce rivalry with fellow countryman Asashoryu had enthralled fans in the late 2000s. But afterward, the dominance of Hakuho in the absence of serious rivals and the lack of Japanese champions had seriously affected the interest in the sport.

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The only active yokozuna after Kakuryu’s withdrawal in March, Hakuho he was reached in this range in July by another Mongol, Terunofuji, who became a Japanese citizen last month.

Hakuho He acquired Japanese nationality in 2019, a required condition to continue in the world of sumo and open his own heya, where he can focus on training young talents that he began training several years ago.

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