Sumo's clown prince Takamisakari calls it quits
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Former komusubi Takamisakari, whose pre-bout goofball antics and gutsy performances made him one of sumo's best-loved rikishi, has called time on his wrestling career, his sumo stablemaster Azumazeki said on Sunday.
The announcement came on the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament. Takamisakari, currently wrestling in the lower ranks of the juryo division, hurt his right shoulder on the second day of the Tokyo basho and finished with a 5-10 mark. That result left him facing certain demotion to the third-tier makushita division for the spring meet in March.
The 36-year-old Takamisakari, whose real name is Seiken Kato, had already said he would retire if he dropped into the makushita league. A former amateur grand champion after winning the national championship in 1998, Takamisakari made his pro debut at the spring meet in 1999.
After returning from a right knee injury, he became hugely popular from the 2002 spring basho when he started performing a Tarzan-like chest-beating warm-up to steel himself for battle.
He would also slap himself hard in the face and pump his arms downward while grunting and making comical faces, triggering raucous laughter and cheers of encouragement from the crowd.
Takamisakari competed for about nine years in sumo's top makuuchi division before slipping into the juryo class in 2011. He will start coaching wrestlers now, operating as a sumo elder under the name of Furiwake.