Sumo wrestler Takamisakari, nicknamed “RoboCop” for his jerky pre-bout ritual that helped him overcome fear while drawing applause from the crowds for more than 10 years, retired from the ring on Jan. 27.
“I have been cheered by people around the nation,” Takamisakari, 36, told a news conference in Tokyo. “I am humbled, embarrassed and delighted at the same time.”
He lost 10 of 15 bouts in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, which ended Jan. 27.
Takamisakari threw generous amounts of salt to purify the ring while sizing up his opponent. Before setting up for the final face-off, he pounded his chest and roared three times. Sumo fans would roar along with him.
Former yokozuna Akebono, who was Takamisakari’s senior at the Azumazeki stable, gave him the RoboCop nickname for the seemingly awkward actions.
Takamisakari said he performed the ritual to build up his courage.
“No matter how many times I wrestle, I am scared of the ring,” he used to say.
Born to an apple farming family in Aomori Prefecture, Takamisakari made his ring debut in 1999. He once wrestled as komusubi, the fourth-highest rank.
Takamisakari needed at least seven victories at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan to avoid demotion to the makushita division. He fell two victories shy of the goal.
“I am physically wrecked,” he told reporters. “I will hurt my body further if I stay in the ring.”
He will train younger wrestlers at the Azumazeki stable.
“I want to make sumo more exciting and entertaining,” Takamisakari said.
At the news conference, he was asked whether he will marry.
“I will be able to spend the time I devoted to sumo to that end,” Takamisakari said, blushing. “I want to take my time.”
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