Photo/IllutrationYokozuna Hakuho falls to defeat at the hands of maegashira No. 2 Yoshikaze on Jan. 17 during the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

Amid controversy gripping the sumo world, struggling yokozuna Hakuho dropped out of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament from Jan. 18, citing an injury.

A day earlier, Hakuho suffered his second straight loss to a maegashira wrestler, the first time that has happened since he was promoted to yokozuna in 2007.

Hakuho went to a hospital on the morning of Jan. 18 and was diagnosed with ligament damage to the big toe of his left foot and a bone bruise to the big toe of his right foot. Doctors said he would need two weeks to recover from those injuries.

Hakuho injured his left big toe during his loss to maegashira No. 2 Yoshikaze on Jan. 17.

This will be only the fifth tournament Hakuho has sat out since becoming a yokozuna.

He won the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in November, his record 40th Emperor's Cup, but that achievement was overshadowed by revelations that fellow Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji had beaten a younger wrestler during a drinking session in late October.

That led to the premature retirement of Harumafuji, and Hakuho was also disciplined by the Japan Sumo Association for failing to stop the beating during the gathering of a number of Mongolian wrestlers.

The Yokozuna Deliberation Council of the JSA had also criticized Hakuho for tactics that he employs at the face-off that some members considered beneath the dignity of a yokozuna, such as slaps and elbows to the face.

Hakuho did not use such moves in the first four days of the tournament and was clearly off form, managing only a 2-2 record. Even his wins were not the usually overwhelming victories that he is known for.

In addition to his own disciplinary measure, Hakuho's stable was the focus of another scandal as top referee Shikimori Inosuke was found to have sexually harassed a younger male referee during a sumo circuit tour in December. The JSA has suspended Inosuke for three straight tournaments and is expected to accept his resignation request after the May tournament.

It has also come to light that Hakuho received a threatening letter during the sumo circuit tour held in December.

Meanwhile, yokozuna Kisenosato vowed on Jan. 18 to continue fighting on despite posting a disappointing 1-3 record after four days. He has been trying to come back after being unable to compete from the very beginning of or dropping out during the past four consecutive tournaments.