Former sekiwake Wakanosato announced Thursday that he plans to retire.
The 39-year-old, whose real name is Shinobu Kogawa, had previously spoken of his intention to hang up his mawashi if he dropped into the makushita division, something his 4-11 record in July’s Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament all but ensured.
“I entered this career out of my love for sumo, and it has been enjoyable,” Wakanosato said. “I’m being sincere in saying I want to continue, but my body is not up to the task of matching my desire.
“During tournaments, I put everything on the line when I stepped into the ring on tour. Since the start that is the one ideal I have clung to.”
Wakanosato wrestled in 1,691 career matches, sumo’s fifth highest total. He made his debut at the 1992 spring basho and entered the makuuchi division at the summer meet in 1998. His 87 tournaments — 26 of them in the three elite ranks just below yokozuna — in the sport’s top flight is the sport’s eighth highest total.
At the end, however, Wakanosato’s performance was hindered by pain in both knees. He finished his career with a record of 914-783.
Wakanosato’s resignation was accepted earlier in the day by the Japan Sumo Association. He will remain in the sport as an instructor and be known as elder Nishiiwa.
“Since Wakanosato entered sumo at the same time, we underwent our training together,” said his stablemaster, Tagonoura. “And through it all he’s been poised and dedicated.
“This saddens me more than when I myself retired. His words have been a big support for (ozeki) Kisenosato and (maegashira) Takayasu.”