Veteran Kyokutenho retires from sumo

Kyodo

Veteran Mongolian-born maegashira Kyokutenho, who has wrestled in a record 1,470 bouts in the elite makuuchi division, on Monday announced his retirement as an active sumo wrestler, saying he has reached his physical limit.

“I have run out of strength and don’t have the spirit anymore,” the 40-year-old Kyokutenho, whose real name is Masaru Ota, told a news conference a day after the conclusion of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

The Japan Sumo Association the same day approved Kyokutenho’s inheritance of the sumo elder name Oshima.

Kyokutenho, who has wrestled in 99 tournaments in the top makuuchi division for second place on the all-time list, finished 3-12 as No. 11 maegashira at the Nagoya meet, a record that would have resulted in his demotion to the second-tier juryo division for the next tournament.

Kyokutenho made his debut at the 1992 spring tournament and took Japanese citizenship in 2005.

At 37 years, 8 months old, Kyokutenho became the oldest wrestler in the modern era to win his career-first title with a victory over Tochiozan in a playoff at the 2012 Summer Basho.

He surpassed the mark of Toyokuni, who achieved the feat at 35 years, 6 months in 1929 — making it the best record since the Showa era (1926-1989).

Kyokutenho also was a step above Chiyonofuji for the oldest to win a title since the establishment of the six-tourney system in 1958, the former yokozuna great winning one at 35 years, 5 months.

Meanwhile on Monday, yokozuna Hakuho said the memory of winning the Nagoya tournament will live with him forever after he claimed his 35th title.

“It is a great memory and one in my sumo career that I will never forget,” Hakuho told reporters.

Hakuho’s latest title win helped make up for the disappointment of missing out on a seventh consecutive championship at the summer meet in May, when he lost to fellow yokozuna Harumafuji on the final day and conceded the title to Terunofuji.

“There were a number of bouts where my sumo was patchy and I lost at the last tournament. I made adjustments and the way I performed (in Nagoya) was nearly as good as the Spring Basho,” said Hakuho, who won 12 straight bouts from opening day in the spring meet in March.

Hakuho prevailed in an all-yokozuna showdown against Kakuryu on the final day of the Nagoya Basho, closing with a 14-1 mark.