Breaking: Yokozuna Kisenosato Announces his Retirement

Kisenosato Retire

According to the NHK, the news everyone was expecting but nobody wanted to hear has broken: Yokozuna Kisenosato will retire. This is a very sad day for sumo, as is any day that one of its grand champions and longtime stars steps away from competition. However, I’m sure many will agree that this development has been a long time coming.

For those who have only seen Kisenosato compete in the last few basho, what you saw was only the ghost of a man who lived and breathed this incredible sport. Yet for much of his seventeen-year career, Kisenosato was an incredibly successful athlete, as well as one of the sports most dedicated proponents. Kisenosatos ascension to Yokozuna was an incredible celebration for a nation looking for a champion of their own, and the fact that his time at the top was so short makes writing this article that much harder. So too, was watching the shell of this very same man trying in vain to claw his way back to active duty after his debilitating injury. Much has been said about Kisenosato and how he should have called it quits long ago and how he’s bringing disgrace to the rank. But I can’t really fault him for trying everything in his power to hold on to his career, his life’s work, until the very last, even when everyone else could see the writing on the wall.

Reason has finally prevailed though, and now Kisenosato can look towards the next chapter of his life. He can take what he’s learned and pass it on to the next generation. And if his future disciples show even the slightest bit of skill, determination, and dignity of their Oyakata, then the sport will be better for it.

38 thoughts on “Breaking: Yokozuna Kisenosato Announces his Retirement

  1. Kisenosato’s first stablemaster was ex-Yokozuna Takanosato. I wonder if this would have played out differently had he still been at the head instead of an ex-M8.

    I don’t buy the prevailing narrative that he got extra-time from the NSK because he was Japanese. Someone on the sumoforum suggested that in Japanese society people are given the chance to grow into new-roles and since the injury happened in his first tournament as a Yokozuna he was given the extra-time because he was new.

    Of course he may have felt the burden of being the first Japanese Yokozuna in 19 years. He’s always had hinkaku, (he was one of the very few that did not come under any kind of suspicion in the yaocho scandal) and maybe this compelled him to keep trying and fighting because he was the face of Japanese Sumo. Had someone like Goeido made it to Yokozuna, I think he would have retired earlier.

  2. There will be debate as to where he ranks among all of the Yokozunas, but there will never be a debate about the amount of fighting spirit this man has. Bucketloads!

  3. Remember the good times…

    Him winning his second yusho and first as a Yokozuna in spectacular fashion and then crying while the crowd sang the national anthem has to be the most emotionally charged moment I’ve seen in sumo. Watching it now and seeing his shoulder covered in tape just kills me.

  4. Tough to hear, for sure. Many great commentary here. Let me say: Kisenosato did what the total, vast majority of sumotori will NEVER do, which is attain the rank of Yokozuna. I do hope his legacy is much the kinder to him and I truly hope his future is a very bright one. Take a bow, sir.

    • Nothing will ever take that away, indeed. But now there is a new chapter. As an oyakata, I think we may see him open a stable once he is married. Can you imagine the kind of young men Kisenosato will recruit? I would expect rikishi that are cast in his mould of non-stop dedication to sumo, endless training and relentless drive to win.

      It was clear last year that he was not going to make a come back, and personally I was eager for him to begin the oyakata phase of his career. The future needs your skill, Great Pumpkin!


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