HomeJapanese AmericanWrestlemania star and sumo champ Akebono Taro dies at 54

Wrestlemania star and sumo champ Akebono Taro dies at 54

Taro Akebono won 11 sumo grand championships becoming the first foreign born wrestler to ever take the crown. He also appeared in Wrestlemania. Today fans are mourning his death at the age of 54.

His family announced Akebano died of heart failure following treatment at a Tokyo hospital, reports Syracuse.com.

Known also as Akebano Taro, he stood 6’8″ tall and weighed a whopping 500 pounds. He retired in 2001 but returned to the big stage for Wrestlemania in 2005.

He also competed in MMA, but lost all four of his fights including to legendary fighters Royce Gracie and Don Frye, said Bleacher Report. He was born in Hawaii as Chadwick Haheo Rowan before moving to Tokyo in the 1980’s. Over his career, he won 654 matches, losing only 232 with 181 draws.

U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel said “Throughout his 35 years in Japan, Akebono strengthened the cultural ties between the United States and his adopted homeland by uniting us all through sport. I send my sincerest condolences to his family and friends and to sumo fans everywhere.”

Following his defeat of Big Show on the Wrestlemania stage in 2005, he would continue fighting another 12 years until his second retirement in 2017.

He is survived by a wife, daughter and two sons.

One of his biggest accomplishments was clearing a path for future wrestlers.

Throughout his 35 years in Japan, Akebono strengthened the cultural ties between the United States and his adopted homeland by uniting us all through sport. I send my sincerest condolences to his family and friends and to sumo fans everywhere, said Kena Heffernan, Aloha State Sumo Association to WJZY.

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