Yokozuna Kakuryu, a wrestler at sumo’s highest rank and winner of six top-division titles, retired Wednesday after missing a fifth straight tournament due to injury.

The retirement of the 35-year-old Mongolia-born wrestler was approved the same day by the Japan Sumo Association.

Kakuryu, whose real name is Mangaljalav Anand, has long been dealing with elbow and lower back pain, and recently announced he would sit out the ongoing Spring Grand Sumo Tournament because of a left hamstring strain.

The surprise retirement announcement came less than two weeks after Kakuryu told his stablemaster, Michinoku, that he was not ready to retire yet. Michinoku told reporters at the time he had confirmed the wrestler’s desire to keep fighting.

In November, Kakuryu, as well as fellow Mongolia-born yokozuna Hakuho, received stern warnings from the JSA over their absences from the ring. The admonition was the harshest the JSA’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council can make short of recommending a wrestler retire.

The following month, Kakuryu acquired Japanese citizenship, which will allow him to remain in Japan and run his own stable of wrestlers after retirement.

He will retain his wrestler name for his toshiyori name as a sumo elder.

Kakuryu made his sumo debut in November 2001, and was promoted to yokozuna in the spring of 2014. He is the first yokozuna to retire since Kisenosato in 2019.

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