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WrestleMania 21 Star Passes Away

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We are saddened to report that legendary sumo wrestler Akebono Tarō, who defeated The Big Show at WWE WrestleMania 21 in 2005, has passed away due to heart failure at the age of 54.

He was a prominent figure in both sumo wrestling and professional wrestling. Hailing from Waimānalo, Hawaii, Akebono made history in the world of sumo when he became the first non-Japanese-born wrestler to achieve the prestigious rank of yokozuna, the highest rank in sumo.

His remarkable career in sumo saw him swiftly rise through the ranks after joining the sport in Japan in 1988. Trained by the pioneering Hawaiian wrestler Takamiyama, Akebono’s talent was evident as he secured two consecutive tournament championships in November 1992 and January 1993. His rivalry with Japanese stars Takanohana and Wakanohana fueled interest in sumo, contributing to its popularity both at tournament venues and on television during the early 1990s.

During his 8-year tenure as a yokozuna, Akebono clinched a total of 11 tournament championships and emerged as a runner-up thirteen times, despite enduring several serious injuries. While his rival Takanohana achieved more tournament victories during this period, their head-to-head battles remained closely contested.

In 1996, Akebono obtained Japanese citizenship, further solidifying his ties to the country where he found fame in sumo.

Following his retirement from sumo in 2001, he transitioned into professional wrestling, where he found success in organizations like All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW). During his wrestling career, he held titles such as the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship and World Tag Team Championship. However, health issues led to his retirement from professional wrestling in 2017.

He also tried MMA and Kickboxing, but wasn’t successful in those ventures, as his record was 0-4 and 1-9 respectively.

He passed away just weeks shy of his 55th birthday, leaving behind a legacy that transcends both sumo and professional wrestling.

Most WWE fans will remember Akebono for his sumo match against The Big Show at WrestleMania 21, where he defeated the former WWE Champion in one minute.

Big Show vs Akebono WrestleMania 21 Sumo Match WWE 2005 HQ Pic

RIP Akebono Tarō

8 May 1969 – 11 April 2024


        
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