A Japanese sumo wrestler died a month after suffering a concussion during a fight, as authorities in the ancient sport are under renewed pressure to rethink their antiquated approach to head injuries.
Hibikiryu, 28 years old rikishi in one of the lower divisions, he died of acute respiratory failure, the Japan Sumo Association said, despite showing earlier signs that he was recovering from his injuries.
Sumo fans reacted in horror after the wrestler, whose real name was Mitsuki Amano, landed on his head during a fight in late March and was thrown in the ring for several minutes before receiving medical assistance.
Finally, he was taken to a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Tokyo, where he was treated for a spinal injury. Reports said he had complained of numbness in the ambulance. Yahoo Japan said his condition had deteriorated rapidly on Wednesday.
Sumo fans paid tribute to Hibikiryu on Twitter, with many criticizing the time it took to provide the wrestler with medical help.
“How sad … I hope this underscores the need to reform emergency medical care in the ring for rikishi,” wrote one user.
Another supported calls for reform, amid evidence of a possible link between concussion in sport and serious health problems, including dementia, later in life: “It was disgusting to see him lying on his stomach unable to move while others continued around him, “one user wrote. “I really hope sumo brings important medical changes now.”
Sumo association president Hakkaku said in a statement: “All members of the association express their deepest condolences. He fought hard like a true rikishi with the help of his family and doctors. Now I would like you to rest in peace. “
Doctors are present at sumo tournaments but are not located in the ring, an arrangement that came under scrutiny earlier this year when Shonannoumi collapsed after heads colliding with your opponent. The 22-year-old finally struggled to his feet and won his fight.
Days later, the sumo association said it would allow judges to remove an athlete with a concussion from the ring, with his opponent declared the default winner, a policy that critics say encourages wrestlers to keep fighting even when they have a concussion. concussion.
The impact of concussion on sports such as football and rugby has come under increasing scrutiny after the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow revealed evidence in 2019 that players in those sports are at increased risk of suffering. brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). a degenerative brain disease first identified in American soccer players.
Hibikiryu is believed to be the first rikishi to die from injuries sustained in the ring. His death came nearly a year after Shobushi became the first active fighter to die, after contracting Covid-19.