Former sekiwake Mitoizumi retires

Former sekiwake Mitoizumi of the Takasago stable decided Friday to step down from the ring after posting a 1-11 record in the second-tier juryo division at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

The 38-year-old Mitoizumi, who had been the oldest current wrestler, informed stable master Takasago of his decision on Friday morning and will remain active as a sumo elder under the name of Nishikido.

“I’d like to have seen out the full 15 days of the tournament (concluding Sunday), but after losing one bout after another I decided that the time was right to call it a day,” Mitoizumi said.

“Considering my age, I think I’ve done well to keep wrestling as long as I have,” he added.

Mitoizumi made his debut at the 1978 spring basho and advanced to sumo’s elite makuuchi division at the autumn tourney in 1984. He won his first and only title as a top maegashira with a 13-2 record at the Nagoya tournament in 1992.

Mitoizumi was affectionately nicknamed “Saltshaker” by British sumo fans during an exhibition tour in London in 1991, referring to the way he lobbed salt into the air as high as he could upon entering the ring. In his career, Mitoizumi wrestled 11 tournaments as a sekiwake or komusubi — the two ranks right below ozeki — and won one of the three special awards for lower-ranked wrestlers seven times. He also has posted 807 wins in 79 tournaments in sumo’s top division.