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Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004

Ceremony held for Musashimaru

Former grand champion Musashimaru was honored in a retirement ceremony Saturday at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. Musashimaru had his top knot cut off by fellow wrestlers and friends in a traditional ceremony at the famed sumo arena. Tears rolled down Musashimaru's face as the final cut was made by his stablemaster Musashigawa. Asashoryu, the sport's only current grand champion, also took part in the ceremony along with former rival Konishiki.

Born Fiamalu Penitani, Musashimaru joined sumo as a new wrestler at the age of 18 after growing up in Hawaii. The Samoan-born yokozuna won 12 Emperor's Cups over his illustrious career and was the most successful foreign wrestler in Japan's ancient sport. Along with Konishiki and fellow grand champion Akebono, Musashimaru was part of a Hawaiian wave that dominated sumo in the 1990's.

Musashimaru attained the yokozuna rank after the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in 1999. His 12 titles are sixth-best on the all-time list. After breaking into sumo in 1991, Musashimaru made steady progress in moving up the ranks and was promoted to the second highest rank of ozeki in 1994. (The Associated Press)



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