- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ryan Villopoto had fought back from serious crashes several times during his career, including a 2010 Supercross wreck that left him with a mangled right leg.

His latest accident ended one of the most decorated careers in motocross history.

A six-time champion in motocross and Supercross, Villopoto announced his retirement from competitive racing on Thursday, saying he’s still in severe discomfort from a crash in April that left him with tailbone and back injuries.

“It is with gratitude, humility, a bit of sadness but without regret, that I announce my retirement from motorcycle racing today,” Villopoto said in a statement.

The 26-year-old rider from Fortuna, California, left American racing earlier this year to complete in the FIM Motocross World Championship in Europe. He won his second FIM race in Thailand, but suffered multiple tailbone fractures and compressed disks in his lower back during a race in Italy this April.

Villopoto said he has been cleared by his doctor, but is still in pain and would not be able regain his fitness in time to compete at a high level by the end of the FIM season.

“My initial thought was that I could be back riding in a few weeks if I just stayed quiet for a while,” said Villopoto, who did not discover the compressed disks until having follow-up X-rays after the initial accident. “That has not proven to be the case.”

Originally from Poulsbo, Washington, Villopoto won three straight 250cc class motocross titles and was just as dominant when he jumped up to the 450cc class.

He twice swept the Supercross and motocross titles in the same season (2011, 2013), and last year joined Jeremy McGrath as the only riders to win four straight Supercross titles.

Villopoto is second all-time - behind Ricky Carmichael - with nine professional AMA Motocross titles and fourth all-time with 83 combined Supercross and motocross titles. He is fourth on the Supercross wins list with 52 and eighth in motocross with 31 victories. He also went undefeated in Motocross of Nations competition, winning four times for Team USA.

“Ryan defines the word champion,” Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. vice president of marketing Chris Brull said in a statement. “Since he started with Kawasaki on Team Green, Ryan has pushed himself and Kawasaki to be better every year. His dedication to his craft has paid off in the championships that he has won, and the developments we have been able to make throughout our KX line. Ryan will always be a part of the Kawasaki family and I speak for everyone at Kawasaki when I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

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