Sumo wrestler dies following head injury


A young Japanese sumo wrestler has died one month after landing on his head during a bout, prompting calls for reforms in the dangers of the sport.

Mitsuki Amano, 28, best known as Hibikiryu, died of acute respiratory failure at a Tokyo hospital after suffering a concussion during a match, the Japan Sumo Association said on Thursday.

“May his soul rest in peace, and we express our heartfelt gratitude towards his contribution” to the sport, the statement said.

On 26 March, the sumo wrestler was thrown headfirst in the ring, before lying motionless on the ground for moments while his opponent checked on him. He moved his head once after few seconds before he was rushed to hospital.

Those around the ring watched in confusion and later faced widespread criticism for the delay of more than five minutes to give him medical assistance as he lay motionless on the ground in a prone position.

Hibikiryu was conscious during his journey to the hospital and complained of numbness. He showed signs of recovery during treatment but his health worsened on Wednesday and he passed away.

The death of the rikishi, a low-tier wrestler, has put a spotlight on the sport and its outdated approach to the treatment of head injuries.

One person wrote on social media: “It was disgusting to see him left lying face down unable to move as others continued around him. I truly hope sumo brings in major medical changes now”.

Another said that he hopes the accident “underscores the need for reform” to the emergency medical care available in a ringside emergency for rikishi wrestlers.

While there are medics available at the sumo tournaments, they are not on standby on the ringside.

This arrangement came under scrutiny earlier this year when a wrestler Shonannoumi clashed heads with his opponent and collapsed on the floor, showing signs of concussion. He came back on his feet after several attempts to stand up and won the bout. He continued the fight, leading to a backlash for allowing a concussed player to play.

Source: The Independent