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Akebono, Foreign-Born Sumo Champion in Japan, Dies at 54

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Taro Akebono, a Hawaii-born sumo wrestler who became the sport’s first foreign grand champion, has died. He was 54.

He died of heart failure in early April while receiving care at a hospital in Tokyo, according to a statement from his family that was distributed by the United States Forces in Japan.

Born Chad George Ha’aheo Rowan in Hawaii, Akebono became Japan’s 64th yokozuna, or grand champion sumo wrestler, in 1993, the first foreign-born sumo wrestler to win the sport’s highest title. He went on to win a total of 11 grand championships.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons, according to the U.S. Forces in Japan.

Motoko Rich contributed reporting.

This is a developing story.

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