Former Sumo & Pro Wrestler Akebono Passes Away at Age 54

Former sumo and professional wrestler Akebono, birth name Chadwick Haheo Rowan and later changed to Akebono Taro, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 54.

Akebono’s passing was first announced by Yahoo Japan and other Japanese news outlets which reported that Akebono had passed away from heart failure. It was reported that prior to his passing, Akebono had been dealing with health issues since 2017 including heart complications.

Akebono’s professional wrestling career spanned from March of 2005 to April of 2017 and was most known for his stints in All Japan Pro Wrestling from 2005 to 2007 and 2008 to 2015. Besides AJPW, Akebono also had notable stints in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Dragon Gate, Pro Wrestling Zero1, and DDT Pro Wrestling. In the United States, Akebono’s career was notable for his brief feud with The Big Show in WWE in 2005 leading to their sumo match at WrestleMania 21, which was won by Akebono.

During his time in AJPW, Akebono was known for being one half of the Mutoh Room tag team with wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer Keiji Muto. Akebono’s second and longer stint in AJPW was more fruitful resulting in him winning the AJPW Triple Crown Championship on two occasions.

Akebono’s wrestling career notable achievements and accolades included being a two-time AJPW Triple Crown Champion, two-time AJPW World Tag Team Champion, winner of the 2015 AJPW Champion Carnival tournament, one-time Dragon Gate Open The Triangle Gate Champion, and one time DDT-Pro World Heavyweight Champion.

Outside of wrestling, Akebono was most known for his career as a professional sumo wrestler from March of 1988 to January of 2001. Akebono reached the sport’s highest rank of Yokozuna in January of 1993. Akebono also earned four gold stars throughout his career, which are awarded when a lower ranked sumo wrestler defeats a Yokozuna ranked sumo wrestler in a match.