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The winner of a record 45 grand tournament championships, Mongolian-born former yokozuna Hakuho has retired with unparalleled results inside the ring, while remaining a lightning rod for controversy within the sumo establishment.

A popular and dominant champion, Hakuho’s rough technique and deportment — deemed by some to be self-righteous — drew frequent criticism. When he finally said he would retire, the Japan Sumo Association racked its brains right up until the last moment in its effort to deal with him as a former wrestler.

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