Yokozuna Hakuho, the most decorated wrestler in sumo history, has decided to call time on his storied career, according to multiple media outlets.
The 36-year-old grand champion leaves the ring after a 20-year run that saw him claim virtually every record of note, and set marks in Japan’s national sport that will likely remain untouched for decades.
Hakuho’s last action came in July, when the Ulaanbaatar native defeated ozeki Terunofuji on the final day of the Nagoya tournament to seal a perfect 15-0 championship, and take home a record 45th Emperor’s Cup.
Despite that success, advancing age and a succession of injuries have kept the legendary wrestler out of action for most of the past year, with the yokozuna no longer feeling able to complete a full 15-day tournament.
Hakuho also received a rare warning over his nonattendance from the Yokozuna Deliberation Council in November and further absences would have risked triggering only the second-ever retirement recommendation issued by that body.
With ownership of elder name stock obtained and the acquisition of Japanese citizenship complete, the veteran wrestler is eligible to remain with the Japan Sumo Association as a coach and (eventually) stablemaster.
Joining professional sumo at the age of 15, Hakuho quickly rose through the ranks. Less than three years after his debut, he won the second-tier jūryō title; just 10 months later was in the upper echelons of the top division.
Following promotion to yokozuna in 2007, Hakuho went on an unprecedented nine-year tear that saw him win or finish as runner-up in 49 out of 52 tournaments.
In 2015, he broke Taiho’s 44-year-old record for most Emperor’s Cups (32), and by the time he decided to call it a career, Hakuho had more titles (45), wins (1,187), perfect championships (16) and consecutive titles (7) than any other wrestler in history.
The veteran also holds the record for most wins in a calendar year (86 of 90 — twice), most wins in the top division (1,093), most wins as a grand champion (899) and longest reign as a yokozuna (84 tournaments). In fact, the only significant record of note that Hakuho didn’t claim was Futabayama’s 69-bout consecutive win streak.
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