Estonia's only professional sumo wrestler, Kaido Höövelson, aka Baruto, has unexpectedly announced that he is retiring from the sport.
The 28-year-old said the decision was motivated by a knee injury that has turned out to be more serious than originally thought, inhibiting him from using his full might against his opponents, reported uudised.err.ee. "I can't do it with half power,“ he said.
"My sumo career has been unusual and overall very successful. Even more than the titles and awards, I value the people that the sport introduced me to and there are a lot of them. I love Japan and Japanese culture, which has developed me as a person and gave me opportunities to learn to know myself and the world better,“ Baruto said.
Baruto made his professional sumo debut in May 2004, rising to the top division two years later. In March 2010, he was promoted to Ozeki, the second highest rank in the sport. Over the course of his career, he won multiple awards for fighting spirit. At the end of last year, however, his injuries began causing him to miss tournaments or forfeit bouts.
He added that when in Japan, he always felt the support of Estonia. "The interest of regular folks, and also the professional and respectful interest of journalists, was pleasant. All in all it was perhaps the biggest motivator because I worked in Japan but home is in Estonia .“
The wrestler said he was happy to be a promoter of the sumo sport in Estonia. "I intend to continue this activity. Through the years I have gained a lot of contacts who can advance our shared interests.“
Baruto will return to Estonia after September 20. "I still have to go to Japan numerous times in the near future, because ending an athletic career there is tied to many ceremonies. When those end, I will stay home and start living an Estonian life.“