Terunofuji Haruo Retires Again Due to Right Arm Weakness, Previously Absent from First Tournament | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Terunofuji Haruo Retires Again Due to Right Arm Weakness, Previously Absent from First Tournament

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On January 16, Day 3 of the Hatsu Basho, Ozeki Takakeisho, who was defeated by Wakamotoharu, announced his withdrawal (Kyodo News).

Ozeki Takakeisho is absent from the 4th day onward due to chronic neck pain.

Takakeisho had been complaining of neck discomfort since before the current tournament started, mentioning to insiders that he could only practice for 2 to 3 days. His condition worsened during the 2nd-day match against Atami Fuji, and after losing to Wakamotoharu on the 3rd day, he decided to withdraw.


On the same day, he submitted a medical report to the Japan Sumo Association stating that he had cervical spondylotic radiculopathy and would require about two weeks of rest and treatment.

“Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy is a nerve disorder that occurs when nerves branching off from the spinal cord exit the cervical spine (neck bones) through a passageway, and due to some cause, the nerves get compressed, leading to inflammation and resulting in nerve damage. It is often associated with age-related changes and deformities caused by repetitive external forces, where bony spurs are formed, narrowing the passage for nerves.” (Dr. Yuuto Ito, Certified Sports Doctor by the Japan Sports Association)

It appears to have symptoms similar to cervical disc herniation, where even in younger individuals with normal bone shapes, nerves can be compressed, causing nerve damage depending on the position of the neck during sleep. While it is relatively common and can occur in non-athletes, athletes may be more susceptible to such symptoms.

“Once the nerves undergo inflammation, they become swollen, creating a thicker state. As a result, the passage becomes relatively narrow, making it easy for the nerves to be touched and stimulated. Therefore, it is necessary to remain at rest until the swelling of the nerves subsides to prevent symptoms from appearing.” (Dr. Yuuto Ito, mentioned earlier)

It is by no means an optimistic situation. There have been cases where the same symptoms worsened, forcing sumo wrestlers into retirement, such as Ishiura, now known as the sumo elder Tokiwayama.

“At a height of 172.5 cm and weighing less than 100 kg, despite being a lightweight, he climbed to the highest rank of West Maegashira 5. He was popular for his spirited sumo. However, during the March 2022 tournament on the 3rd day in a match against Kotoowaka, he was thrown out of the ring and became unable to move. He submitted a medical certificate to the association stating, ‘Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy has worsened, requiring approximately two weeks of rest and treatment.’ He withdrew from the 4th day due to this diagnosis, but as the treatment prolonged and he couldn’t return to competition, he retired.” (Sports newspaper reporter)

At his retirement press conference, Ishiura said, “I want to be healthy and look after my children’s growth,

Ishiura said at his retirement press conference, 

“Wishing to observe the growth of my children with a healthy body.”

Stating his reason for retirement, 

“I don’t want to push myself and end up with lower body paralysis.”

He mentioned, “I don’t want to force myself and end up with lower body paralysis.” The worsening of Takakeisho’s neck pain is said to be linked to a match against Hakuho in the July 2021 tournament, where he collided during the initial charge, and after losing his strength, he was overwhelmingly pushed out. Takakeisho couldn’t move for a while at the edge of the ring and had to be lifted out on a wheelchair. His stablemaster, Tokitsuyama oyakata (former Komusubi Takasanryu), stated,

“When they collided with full force, he felt a shock. I think it was quite painful.”


He told reporters about the current symptoms, stating, 

“He lost to Wakamotoharu and said, ‘I can’t put strength into my right arm,’ but I had never heard that before. His neck has been bad for a long time, but this is the first time for something like this, so I’m a bit worried.”

His expression darkened, saying, “The content of the match and the symptoms are very similar to the pattern with Ishiura.”

Excerpt from “Pain.jp,” a pain information website

“If you continue, becoming paralyzed on one side occurs when there is compression of the spinal cord itself. In the case of Ishiura, it seems to be the same condition as when Hanshin’s Akashi player retired, which may be different from the case of Terunofuji this time. However, sumo is a sport that puts a burden on the neck, of course.

Depending on the compressed nerve, symptoms vary, such as inability to raise the shoulder, numbness in the shoulder, inability to bend the wrist, numbness in the thumb, inability to extend the elbow, numbness in the middle finger, and so on. If muscle weakness persists or symptoms do not improve, surgery may be considered, but in the case of athletes, the cause is often prolonged stress, and aiming for a complete cure through surgery is not easy.” (As quoted from Dr. Ito, certified sports doctor by the Japan Sports Association)

Yakumitsuru, a former external committee member of the Sumo Association and a manga artist, spoke about Terunofuji’s future as follows:

“It’s quite a severe condition, so I wonder, maintaining the rank of ōzeki seems difficult. Recently, we’ve seen several wrestlers like Takayasu, Shodai, and Mitakeumi who fell from ozeki but continued in sumo for a long time. However, the only one who continued with pushing sumo after falling from ozeki is Daishojima (currently stablemaster Onaruto). He was the type to finish opponents in one powerful move.

However, Terunofuji is not like that. He repeatedly hits and pushes his opponents, so it remains to be seen whether he can continue with that style of sumo. If not, I think there might be a time to make a decision. He matured quite early, but I hope he considers his own body. Even if it leads to retirement in his twenties, I believe it can’t be helped.”

Terunofuji, who got married in August 2020, is scheduled to have a wedding reception with his wife on February 18. However, concerns have been raised by insiders about the event, and attention is focused on his post-tournament developments.


  • PHOTO Kyodo News (1st photo), Pain Information Site

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