Injury-plagued yokozuna Terunofuji withdrew from the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday due to lower back pain and other health problems.

The Mongolian-born grand champion lost three straight bouts through Friday at Edion Arena Osaka, slumping to a 2-4 record, while looking a shadow of the wrestler who captured his ninth top-division championship at the previous tournament in January.

The New Year tournament marked the first time he had completed a 15-day meet since the previous May, having been affected by the problems with his lower back, along with ongoing concerns about his hip and two surgically repaired knees.

"He's done everything he can, but he's also dealing with fatigue and all sorts of issues," stablemaster Isegahama said.

The 32-year-old's withdrawal from the 15-day competition marks the 20th time he has pulled out of a grand tournament.

Terunofuji wrestled at the second-highest rank of ozeki from July 2015 to September 2017 but his fitness issues saw him tumble to sumo's fifth-tier jonidan division by March 2019.

He climbed all the way back to the elite makuuchi division in July 2020, when he remarkably won the second Emperor's Cup of his career, and earned yokozuna promotion ahead of the September 2021 grand tournament.

During his 16 meets as yokozuna, Terunofuji has won five titles but also missed the same number of meets entirely. He has also withdrawn midway through a meet four times.