The Akebono family is expressing their appreciation of the messages of support they've received following the hospitalization of renowned sumo wrestler Akebono Taro.
In a statement, the family said, "We wish to express our sincere appreciation for the outpouring of support and concern for Akebono. The number of messages from around the world has been overwhelming."
The Waimanalo native, who made history by becoming the first non-Japanese-born sumo wrestler to reach the title of yokozuna, was hospitalized in Japan, according to a statement on his Japanese website.
The statement, which was posted in Japanese and translated into English, indicates that the wrestler is suffering from some kind of leg infection that will keep him sidelined from competition for the foreseeable future.
Reports by several online wrestling blogs claim the wrestler has been placed into a medically-induced coma, though that information was not included in the wrestler's official statement and could not be verified.
The 47-year-old Akebono, born Chadwick Haheo Rowan, has embraced life as a mixed martial artist and pro wrestler following the conclusion of his distinguished sumo career.