More unfortunate news out of Japan this week, as beloved onetime sumo egg-baby Akebono has been hospitalized and placed in a medically-induced coma. This, of course, comes on the heels of serious injuries to Tomoaki Honma and Katsuyori Shibata.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Akebono was hospitalized Tuesday following a match for DDT. He was rushed to a hospital in Ōmuta, Fukuoka, and he is expected to remain in the induced coma for at least ten days. There are no details at this time as to what caused the hospitalization, or what the extent of the health concerns and/or injury might be. He is 47 years old.
Akebono may be best known to North American wrestling fans as Big Show’s opponent in a sumo match at WrestleMania 21. Prior to entering the worlds of MMA and pro wrestling, however, Akebono Tarō (born Chadwick Rowan, in Waimānalo, Hawaii) made sumo wrestling history as the first non-Japanese-born competitor to achieve the rank of yokozuna.
Akebono has wrestled for basically every promotion in Japan, having stints in New Japan, All Japan, cult favorite HUSTLE, Dragon Gate, and Zero1, although his greatest success came during his second stint with All Japan, where he twice captured the company’s top title, the Triple Crown Championship, as well as twice holding the All-Asia and World tag titles.
He has been a Japanese citizen since 1996, when Japanese law required the sumo to give up his American citizenship and legally change his name to Akebono Tarō.