thursday sumo: the first of the great hawaiians

Takamiyama (高見山) was the first foreigner to win a top division sumo tournament, and the first of a line of Hawaiian-born wrestlers who would be a presence in the sport until the early 2000s, including several Yokozuna.  After his retirement, he would go on to become the first foreign-born head of a stable, Azumazeki-beya.

Though he never broke through to the rank of Ozeki, Takamiyama’s top division career spanned sixteen years, during which he earned twelve kinboshi and eleven special prizes, and regularly scored double-digit wins.  The Cal Ripken of sumo, he never sat out a tournament until he was forced to retire due to injury in 1984, and prior to that, only once withdrew early, in 1981.

Youtube highlights are sparse, but here we go:

(vs. Asahikuni (旭國), Nagoya 1972)

(vs. Yokozuna Wajima (輪島), Haru 1974)

(vs. Yokozuna Kitanoumi (北の湖), Aki 1978)

(note the killer sideburns)

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