Georgian sumo wrestler Tochinoshin, who competed at the traditional Japanese sport's second-highest rank, ozeki, announced his retirement Friday.
The 35-year-old Kasugano stable representative, whose real name is Levan Gorgadze, had been wrestling in the second-tier juryo division. On Thursday, his record at the ongoing Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan fell to 0-5.
"I've been unable to generate any power," said Gorgadze, whose left shoulder, injured in January, has only gotten worse. "I've become fearful of wrestling."
Gorgadze won one grand sumo tournament, in January 2018, and wrestled as an ozeki in seven meets between July 2018 and September 2019.
Having competed in judo before entering Japanese sumo in 2006, Gorgadze needed only two years to reach the elite makuuchi division.
"I arrived from Georgia knowing nothing, and the Kasugano stable nurtured me," he said. "I'm grateful for being able to come to Japan and to be able to be a part of sumo."
And though his career was sidetracked by a serious knee injury, Gorgadze skillfully made use of his size and exceptional physical strength to rise to a spot among the sport's elite, becoming the third European ozeki, and the first from his homeland.
"It's like I was able to really give my all after I was hurt," Gorgadze said. "When I fell from the makuuchi division to the (third-tier) makushita, my way of thinking about sumo changed."
Unlike many successful foreign-born wrestlers, Gorgadze has not acquired Japanese citizenship, a prerequisite for remaining within the Japan Sumo Association as a sumo elder, and will leave the sport.
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