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Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007

Ex-yokozuna Kotozakura dies

Kyodo News

Former yokozuna and sumo elder Kotozakura died at a hospital in Chiba Prefecture on Tuesday. He was 66.

The cause of his death was not immediately known. Kotozakura, whose real name is Norio Kamatani, made his professional sumo debut in January 1959 and was promoted to the highest rank of yokozuna at age 32 after the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in January 1973.

The Tottori Prefecture native, who was known for his bull-like rushing style of sumo, won five tournament titles in the top division and retired in July 1974. He spent 32 tournaments at the second-highest position of ozeki before earning promotion to yokozuna.

Kotozakura later became the Sadogatake stable master and helped develop the talent of the likes of former ozeki Kotokaze, former sekiwake Kotonishiki and Kotooshu, the Bulgarian who is currently wrestling as an ozeki.

Kotozakura also served as a member of the Japan Sumo Association executive committee before quitting his post in 2005 when he reached the mandatory retirement age.

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