Over the season, a mere 55 people have applied to become wrestlers, the lowest since the Japan Sumo Association established the six-tournament system in 1958. Last year, 60 people took the tests required to be accepted as a sumo trainee.

The sport – which not long ago had ambitions of being accepted into the Olympic Games – has been on a downward slide for a number of years, with fewer spectators attending “bashos” and television coverage curtailed.

Followers of the sport also tend to be older, which has proved a turn-off to potential new recruits, while young people also appear to be dissuaded from a career in the ring because of the discipline expected of wrestlers and the strenuous training they undergo.