Former ozeki Chiyotaikai, who retired after the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in January, had his topknot removed in a ceremony at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Saturday, drawing the curtain on his illustrious but injury-plagued career.
Chiyotaikai, who has assumed the sumo elder’s name Sanoyama, had about 360 well-wishers taking snips into his oicho (ginko-leaf topknot) before his stablemaster Kokonoe removed it.
Even his mother got a turn, Chiyotaikai stepping down from the raised ring so she could do the honors, as women are traditionally not allowed in the dohyo.
“I became very emotional. I told myself that I wouldn’t cry, but I couldn’t hold back the tears in the end,” said Chiyotaikai.
The 34-year-old is coaching at the Kokonoe stable.
“I want to train top-level wrestlers,” he said.
Kokonoe, the former yokozuna great Chiyonofuji, told Chiyotaikai: “I want you to become a role model in society and train wrestlers to become yokozuna in the future.”
Chiyotaikai, known for his trademark fierce thrusting attack, made his pro debut at the Kyushu meet in November 1992 and was promoted to sumo’s second-highest rank of ozeki after winning his first Emperor’s Cup at the 1999 New Year basho.
He won three tournaments in his career and remained at ozeki for a record 65 meets. He suffered from injuries and various health problems in the final years before he retired.