Retired ozeki Miyabiyama honored at hair-cutting ceremony

The 36-year-old, now known as Futagoyama, vows to develop Japanese sumo wrestlers

Kyodo

Former ozeki Miyabiyama, who needed just 12 tournaments from his sumo debut before he was promoted to sumo’s second-highest rank, had his topknot removed in the traditional hair-cutting ceremony on Saturday.

Miyabiyama, who took the coach’s name Futagoyama after his retirement following last year’s Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, was welcomed by 270 well-wishers who took snips of his hair before stablemaster Fujishima cut off his topknot at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

“I received so much help from everyone (over the years). I want to develop strong Japanese wrestlers from now on,” Futagoyama said.

Futagoyama, 36, debuted at the 1998 Nagoya Basho in the makushita lower tier after dropping out of Meiji University and became the quickest to gain promotion to the ozeki rank since the Showa period (1926-1989).

But he struggled with injuries later and was demoted after just eight tournaments before finishing off his career in the lower-tier juryo.

He suffered a tragedy last June, when his second-eldest son Masataka died. On Saturday, Futagoyama simulated his last sumo bout with his 4-year-old eldest son Masatoshi.