• Kyodo

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A 15-year-old sumo wrestler of the Kitanoumi stable has died of a heart ailment at a Tokyo hospital, sumo officials said Friday.

Yoshitaka Maeda, a native of Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture, died Thursday of a cardiomyopathy, the officials said.

Maeda passed the requirements to become a sumo wrestler for the spring tournament in March this year at a height of 186 cm and a weight of 140 kg.

After wrestling at the spring basho, Maeda was promoted to the jonokuchi division as a 15th-ranked grappler but had been in and out of hospital with various health problems since April and missed the entire summer tourney in May.

Maeda was dropped from the sumo rankings for the Nagoya meet and had not wrestled in any of the bouts. It is the first time an active wrestler has died since former komusubi Kenko in 1998.

Hiroyuki Yoshida, who heads an office in charge of medical affairs for the Japan Sumo Association, said, “There were no signs of any problems with Maeda when he was examined as a new wrestler. In the future, we would like to carry out stricter examinations.”

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