Yokozuna Harumafuji has pulled out of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament getting under way Sunday due to an injury to his left ankle, the Japan Sumo Association said Friday.
According to his stablemaster Isegahama, Harumafuji has hurt ligaments in his ankle, but the yokozuna has not been hospitalized and, at least for the time being, is not planning to undergo surgery.
“I really wanted to wrestle,” said Harumafuji. “I was in good form for the coming tournament. I tried all kinds of treatments so this wouldn’t become an excuse. I will do my best to train my mind and body (for the Spring Basho).”
Harumafuji, who won his sixth career championship at the Kyushu Basho in November, will sit out his first tournament since missing the 2010 Kyushu Basho. It will be his first absence from the ring since his promotion to sumo’s highest rank in November 2012.
The Mongolian-born wrestler is the first yokozuna to pull out from the first day since Asashoryu did so at the 2008 Kyushu Basho.