Mon, Nov 17, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Musashimaru talks about his reasons for leaving the ring

AP , FUKUOKA, JAPAN

In his first public statement since announcing his retirement from sumo, Musashimaru said Sunday he was unable to uphold the responsibility of a grand champion.

Musashimaru, the most successful foreign-born wrestler in sumo, decided to retire Saturday after suffering his fourth loss at the ongoing Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

"I couldn't maintain the responsibility that a grand champion has," Musashimaru said at a press conference. "That was the main reason I decided to retire."

The Samoan-born yokozuna, the winner of 12 titles, has struggled unsuccessfully for two years with a wrist injury.

"The cause was my wrist," added Musashimaru. "The injury left me with virtually no power in my left shoulder."

Musashimaru, who was the second foreign wrestler to reach sumo's highest rank, missed all or parts of the previous six tournaments due to the wrist injury and has not looked anywhere near his top form.

The title of yokozuna is more than a sports achievement -- it is considered a mark of honor, and its holders are held up to very high standards. Musashimaru's departure leaves the sport with only one grand champion, Mongolian Asashoryu.

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