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Tuesday, 16th June 2009
In Sports,

Hawaiian sumo pioneer retires

The Hawaiian sumo wrestler Jesse Takamiyama, founder of the Azumazeki sumo stable, retires from the sport today on his 65th birthday.

Born Jesse Kuhaulua but taking the name Daigoro Watanabe upon taking Japanese nationality in 1980, the popular wrestler was the first foreign-born stable owner in the sport's history.

His Azumazeki stable was also responsible for producing fellow Hawaiian-born wrestler Akebono, who became the first ever foreign-born grand champion in 1993.

The wrestler retires with the congratulations of the US Congress, which AFP reported as hailing the wrestler for his "achievements to sumo and his contributions to enhancing United States-Japan relations", as well as receiving a congratulatory letter from US President Barack Obama earlier this month.

Takamiyama told the press: "Today, I'm filled with both happiness and sadness. I'm sad to be leaving sumo but thrilled to get this letter from the President."

Last week, the Bulgarian government announced that it would be awarding local sumo star Kaloyan Mahlyanov Kotooshu the Stara Planina Medal First Class, the country's highest honour, for his work enhancing relations between Bulgaria and Japan.

Written by Mark Smith