HONOLULU - Hawaii's sumo grand champion Akebono is in a hospital in Japan battling a leg infection.

According to a statement on Akebono's website, a bout of cellulitis forced the yokozuna to cancel his appearance at a wrestling event.

The statement says it's an ailment the 47 year old has received medical treatment for in the past.  Family members have not issued any response to refute reports that Akebono is in a medically-induced coma.

But, a spokesperson issued the following statement:

"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. While we are grateful, we kindly ask that you respect our family’s request for privacy at this time."

Akebono was born Chad Rowan and raised in Waimanalo.  He legally changed his last name to Taro when he became a citizen of Japan in 1996.

Also in the sumo world, Waianae native Fiamalu Penitani, who was a sumo wrestler named Musashimaru, is also in a Tokyo hospital.

Penitani, 45, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he is recovering from a kidney transplant.  He says he felt ill while golfing in Nara and was diagnosed with a kidney ailment.

Penitani became the 67th Yokozuno in 1999.  After retiring, he opened up his own sumo stable in Japan three years ago.