The Yomiuri ShimbunFormer ozeki Baruto, hampered in recent years by a left knee injury, has opted to retire after deciding he would be unable to rejuvenate his career from the second-tier juryo division.
The 28-year-old Estonian, one of the few Europeans to make it to the highest levels in sumo, submitted his retirement notice Wednesday to the Japan Sumo Association.
Baruto was forced to drop out during this year’s May tournament when he reaggravated his knee injury, then pulled out of the July tournament. That made him the third former ozeki to drop to juryo.
Baruto had planned to continue rehab efforts in preparation for this month’s Autumn tournament, but the knee failed to respond and he was unable to train at all.
Baruto, whose real name is Kaido Hoovelson, debuted at the 2004 Summer tournament as the first Estonian in the sport. At 1.98 meters and 180 kilograms, he worked his way up until achieving promotion to ozeki, the second-highest rank, after the Spring tournament in 2010.
After posting a 14-1 record to win his lone Emperor’s Cup at the New Year tournament in 2012, there was hope he could make a run at promotion to yokozuna, but a string of injuries limited his potential and instead he ended up losing his rank to close the year.