Sumo

Ex-yokozuna Futahaguro died in February at age 55, wife announces

KYODO

Former yokozuna Futahaguro, who quit sumo after a series of personal issues, died on Feb. 10 at the age of 55, his wife, Yoshie, revealed Friday.

Futahaguro, whose real name was Koji Kitao, died of the chronic kidney disease he has been battling since 2013.

A native of Mie Prefecture, the 199-cm Futahaguro was quickly marked as a rising star in the sumo world. He was promoted to yokozuna around the time of his 23rd birthday after the July 1986 tourney.

After promotion to yokozuna, his performance became inconsistent. At one point he went missing after a disagreement with his stablemaster. Futahaguro wrestled in just eight tournaments as a yokozuna before he retired and never won a grand tournament championship.

In the wake of his shocking retirement in December 1987, the Japan Sumo Association adopted a guideline for a time of not promoting a wrestler to yokozuna until he had won two consecutive championships as an ozeki.

After his retirement, he took up pro wrestling. In 2003, he was hired as an adviser at his former Tatsunami stable.

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