Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu withdrew from the ongoing Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament because of a right foot injury Wednesday, another in a string of ailments that his stablemaster Izutsu said may end his career.
(Kakuryu in foreground)
"Being prone to injury means he's losing power. If he can't win next time he steps on the dohyo, there will be no option to pull out midway. He would have to take the decision (to retire from the sport) as a man," Izutsu said.
Despite the bad news, the 31-year-old Kakuryu remained upbeat.
"I don't know what to say. I started on a good note so I don't know what went wrong," he said Wednesday.
"I don't want to end with an injury this way, nor do I want to end as a loser. I hope to try and stay positive and overcome this injury."
According to Izutsu, Kakuryu, who got off to a 2-0 winning start to the 15-day meet at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, sustained the injury in a loss to second-ranked maegashira Hokutofuji on Tuesday, his first of the tourney.
"His right foot got worse Tuesday evening and he had difficulty walking this morning. I feel bad (for the fans) that he has had many withdrawals recently. Though it is not his fault, it happened because he's not strong enough," Izutsu said.
The spring meet in March featured four grand champions for the first time in 17 years and all four -- Kakuryu, Kisenosato, Harumafuji and Hakuho -- started in the next two meets as well, but in none of the three tournaments have all lasted the whole 15 days.
Hakuho withdrew from the spring meet in Osaka and Kisenosato pulled out of the summer meet in Tokyo, both due to injury.
It is the third time this year Kakuryu has been forced to pull out of a tournament, and seventh time overall. He only fought four days and forfeited his fifth bout in the summer meet in May after he complained of pain in his left ankle.
Komusubi Yoshikaze, his scheduled opponent for Wednesday, will win by forfeit.
Since his promotion to yokozuna status after the spring tournament in 2014, Kakuryu has only won two of the 20 titles he has contested.