Former sumo wrestler Akebono, the first foreign-born yokozuna, has died from heart failure, media reported Thursday. He was 54.

Akebono had been battling an illness since collapsing in the city of Kitakyushu seven years ago, and had been hospitalized near Tokyo, the reports said. He died earlier this month after his condition took a sudden turn for the worse, the Nikkan Sports daily reported.

A private funeral will be held for the sumo legend.