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HomeUncategorizedAkebono: Pioneering US-born sumo wrestling champion dies aged 54

Akebono: Pioneering US-born sumo wrestling champion dies aged 54


Pioneering US-born former sumo wrestling champion Akebono has died, his household introduced in a press release Thursday.

Broadly thought-about to have blazed a path for different international sumo wrestlers, the 54-year-old died of coronary heart failure at a hospital in Japan.

Born Chad George Ha’aheo Rowan in Hawaii, Akebono grew to become the primary non-Japanese yokozuna – a sumo grand champion, the very best rank within the sport.

“It’s with disappointment that we announce Akebono Taro died of coronary heart failure earlier this month whereas receiving care at a hospital within the Tokyo space,” his household stated in a press release through the US navy in Japan.

“He led the sumo growth because the sixty fourth yokozuna, and achieved many accomplishments, together with profitable 11 championships.”

After changing into Yokozuna in 1993, Akebono grew to become a Japanese citizen in 1996. He retired from sumo in 2001 earlier than debuting as a professional wrestler underneath Japanese combined martial arts promotion Ok-1 in 2003.

In response to the Japan Sumo Affiliation, Akebono was rushed to hospital after a wrestling match in 2017 and had been unwell ever since.

He’s survived by his spouse, daughter and two sons.

In a publish on X, previously referred to as Twitter, the Japanese Olympic Committee recalled that Akebono “carried out a dignified ring-entering ceremony for the world” on the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.

US ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel added that Akebono “opened the door for different international wrestlers to seek out success within the sport” and “strengthened the cultural ties between the US and his adopted homeland.”

Information of Akebono’s loss of life got here the identical week US President Joe Biden is internet hosting Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington.

Former skilled sumo wrestler Masaru Hanada, who competed underneath the identify Wakanohana and have become grand champion after Akebono, additionally mirrored on his nice rival’s passing.

“I’ve been requested to touch upon the information of Akebono’s passing. I’m sorry, however I’m not in a situation to speak about it as a result of shock, so I’ll put it in writing,” Hanada wrote on his official web site.

“A rival, a good friend, and a colleague with whom I shared many hardships and joys, has departed.

“I actually miss him a lot. I used to be speaking with him about assembly underneath a tree in Hawaii with all our fellow sumo wrestlers once we grew older. I couldn’t fulfill that promise, and I’m simply so unhappy. I’ll see you underneath the tree in Hawaii. I’ll see you there.”

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