Photo/Illutration Yokozuna Hakuho (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Hobbled yokozuna Hakuho pulled out of the November Grand Sumo Tournament that starts on Nov. 8, still not fully recovered from knee surgery in August. 

After his right knee was diagnosed as still in poor condition, Hakuho, 35, decided to withdraw from the tourney at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Miyagino, Hakuho's stablemaster, said on Nov. 5 that if Hakuho drops out of the November tournament, the yokozuna “will have to do his best and put his rank on the line at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.”

The latest decision means Hakuho will have missed entirely or dropped out of three consecutive tournaments, after winning the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka in March.

Kakuryu, the other yokozuna that Hakuho beat for the title in March, has already withdrawn from the November tournament.

The previous Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament opened without a yokozuna from Day 1 for the first time in 26 years.

The November tournament will have a similar void, with ozeki wrestlers ranked at the top of the banzuke.

The Yokozuna Promotion Council has maintained a stern attitude toward both yokozuna who have frequently missed tournaments.

Depending on the results of the November tournament, the council may adopt a resolution to give encouragement as a gesture to motivate them, issue a warning or recommend they retire. The resolution, however, is nonbinding.

Hakuho is the all-time tournament record holder with 44 championships. He was promoted to yokozuna after the summer tournament in 2007.

He has occupied the top rank for 79 tournaments, the longest stint in history.

The Mongolian-born wrestler obtained Japanese citizenship in September 2019, making it possible for him to become a stablemaster after retirement.