Photo/IllutrationYokozuna Kisenosato announces his withdrawal from the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Onojo, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Nov. 15. (Yu Iwasa)

ONOJO, Fukuoka Prefecture--Hobbled yokozuna Kisenosato dropped out of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Nov. 15 after setting a postwar record for futility by a grand champion.

Kisenosato, 32, who belongs to the Tagonoura stable, made the announcement on Day 5 of the tournament held at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

“I am sorry for sumo fans because I was the only yokozuna going into the tournament,” Kisenosato told reporters. “I am truly mortified.”

An injury to his left chest and arm had kept the yokozuna out of a number of previous tournaments. But he indicated that was not the reason he was withdrawing from the Kyushu basho.

“I newly injured my right knee during the bout on the first day (of the tournament),” Kisenosato said.

The yokozuna lost to komusubi Takakeisho on Nov. 11, the first day of the tournament, followed by three consecutive defeats to wrestlers in the lowest hiramaku rank of the makuuchi division.

Victories by hiramaku wrestlers over yokozuna are called “kinboshi” (gold stars). Kisenosato’s handing out of three straight kinboshi, the third time he has done so, matched a record that he had already shared with many other grand champions.

However, he is the first yokozuna to lose his first four bouts of a tournament (excluding losses by default) since summer 1949.

Kisenosato had skipped or withdrew from eight consecutive tournaments but avoided retirement by securing 10 victories in the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in September.

But his decision to pull out of the Kyushu basho means that the fate of his career will hinge on his performance at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in January.

“I want to return to the dohyo after my injury heals,” he said.