Japanese Sumo Wrestler Shobushi Dies at 28 from Coronavirus Complications

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2020

Sumo Association chairman Hakkaku (C) greets sumo wrestlers during the spring grand sumo tournament held behind closed doors due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Edion Arena Osaka in Osaka on March 8, 2020. - Sumo's spring tournament began behind closed doors, the latest big event in Japan to be hit by the coronavirus less than five months before the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)
STR/Getty Images

Japanese sumo wrestler Kiyotaka Suetake, better known as Shobushi, died Wednesday of multiple organ failure after contracting pneumonia due to COVID-19, the Japan Sumo Association confirmed to the Kyodo News (h/t The Japan Times). 

He was 28.

Shobushi is the first sumo wrestler and first person in their 20s to die from the novel coronavirus in Japan.

"I can only imagine how hard it must have been, battling illness for over a month, but like a wrestler he endured it bravely and fought the disease until the end," JSA chairman Hakkaku said in a statement. "I just want him to rest peacefully now."

According to Yoko Wakatsuki and Ben Morse of CNN, Shobushi attempted to receive treatment at several hospitals when he began suffering from symptoms but was turned away because of bed shortages. He was not admitted to a hospital until April 8, four days after his first symptoms. Ten days later, he was placed in the intensive care unit. 

"He fought tenaciously against the disease, enduring the pain and suffering for more than a month like a sumo wrestler," the Japan Sumo Association said in a statement, per Wakatsuki and Morse. "We hope he will rest in peace now. We are very grateful to everyone in the medical institutes who treated him with utmost care."

Shobushi reached a high of the No. 11 ranking in Japan's Sandanme Division.