Former yokozuna Wajima dies at 70.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

    Message Count:
    5,278
    Trophy Points:
    3,636
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +4,753
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    Sumo: Ex-grand champion Wajima dies at 70


    October 9, 2018 (Mainichi Japan)


    [​IMG]

    In this January 1979, sumo grand champion Wajima performs a ring-entering ritual at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo. (Kyodo)
    TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Former sumo grand champion Hiroshi Wajima, who won top makuuchi division tournaments 14 times with his famed "golden left arm" in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at age 70, his family said Tuesday.

    [​IMG]



    Former sumo grand champion Hiroshi Wajima (Kyodo)
    A native of Ishikawa Prefecture, Wajima gained fame while still a student, winning the national athletic meet when he was at high school and twice becoming the amateur sumo champion as a student at Nihon University.

    He joined the Hanakago stable and debuted as a professional sumo wrestler in 1970, and in just three years was promoted to become the 54th yokozuna.

    Unlike many wrestlers who adopt ring names, Wajima continued to use his real name even as a yokozuna. He was a key figure in making sumo popular in his day, particularly through his fierce rivalry with fellow yokozuna Kitanoumi, who died in 2015.

    Wajima retired in 1981 and became the Hanakago stablemaster, but the following years were turbulent. He was found to have put forward his management right at the Japan Sumo Association as collateral for a debt and was forced to leave the sumo world in 1985.

    He then turned to professional wrestling and also served as a coach of an American football team. In recent years he had undergone surgery for throat cancer.

    Swami
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens 'The Lovely Michelle'

    Message Count:
    5,819
    Trophy Points:
    3,142
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +8,432
    Member Since:
    January 25, 2011
    I am always a little curious about the life after sumo for a grand champions such as Wajima. It seems many become stablemasters. I like the fact he continued to use his real name while in sumo.

    Rest in peace Wajima.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

    Message Count:
    5,278
    Trophy Points:
    3,636
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +4,753
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    Sad that Wajima's reputation was tarnished by his messy exit as an oyakata. Nonetheless he was a superb Yokozuna with amazing technique. Perhaps only Chiyonofuji of the modern era had greater technical skill amongst the great Yokozuna.

    Swami
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

    Message Count:
    5,278
    Trophy Points:
    3,636
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +4,753
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    Ex yokozuna Wajima dies at 70
    Details
    Written by Kyodo
    Category: News
    Published: 09 October 2018
    Hits: 6
    [​IMG]


    Former sumo grand champion Hiroshi Wajima, who won top makuuchi division tournaments 14 times with his famed "golden left arm" in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at age 70.

    A native of Ishikawa Prefecture, Wajima gained fame while still a student, winning the national athletic meet when he was at high school and twice becoming the amateur sumo champion as a student at Nihon University.

    He joined the Hanakago stable and debuted as a professional sumo wrestler in 1970, and in just three years was promoted to become the 54th yokozuna.

    Unlike many wrestlers who adopt ring names, Wajima continued to use his real name even as a yokozuna. He was a key figure in making sumo popular in his day, particularly through his fierce rivalry with fellow yokozuna Kitanoumi, who died in 2015.

    Wajima retired in 1981 and became the Hanakago stablemaster, but the following years were turbulent. He was found to have put forward his management right at the Japan Sumo Association as collateral for a debt and was forced to leave the sumo world in 1985.

    He then turned to professional wrestling and also served as a coach of an American football team. In recent years he had undergone surgery for throat cancer.

    Swami
     
  5. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

    Message Count:
    5,278
    Trophy Points:
    3,636
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +4,753
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    Ex-yokozuna Wajima remembered for powerful left-arm throws, rivalry in ring


    October 9, 2018 (Mainichi Japan)

    Japanese version

    [​IMG]

    Wajima performs a traditional ring-entrance ceremony at Yasukuni Shrine in April 1978. (Mainichi)
    [​IMG]



    Wajima raises his fists after scoring his 14th straight makushita division win in March 1970. (Mainichi)
    Hiroshi Wajima, a former top-ranked yokozuna sumo wrestler, left behind memories of his powerful left-hand throws and his rivalry with the late grappler Toshimitsu Kitanoumi, as he passed away at the age of 70.

    During his heyday in the 1970s, Wajima helped spur a boom in sumo alongside Kitanoumi, who died in 2015, and Kenshi Takanohana, who passed away in 2005. He wore a gold sash and had a powerful left-handed throw, which led to him being dubbed "The Golden Left."

    Wajima once said when commenting on his technique, "I'm left-handed, so I have more power in my left arm. I came to believe that I wouldn't lose if I grabbed my opponent's belt with my left hand, and strangely enough I started to win."

    The wrestler, a native of Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, was quickly hailed as a genius, capturing the eye of the great wrestler Taiho as a high school grappler in the prefectural capital of Kanazawa. Sumo stables competed to scout him and he ended up joining the Hanakago Stable. He made his debut in the third-highest makushita division of sumo at the bottom of the ranking, and won 14 bouts in a row. After winning two straight makushita tournaments, he was promoted to the juryo division.

    [​IMG]



    Wajima takes down Kitanoumi in a bout to determine the tournament winner, on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in 1974. (Mainichi)
    In 1971, a year after his debut, Wajima entered the top makuuchi division. He was fortunate to have rivals who helped drive him forward, as his stable trained together with the Futagoyama Stable headed by Kanji Wakanohana I, a former yokozuna wrestler. One of those rivals was Wakanohana's brother Takanohana, a member of the Futagoyama Stable. Within his own Hanakago Stable, meanwhile, was the wrestler Masateru Kaiketsu, who was the same age as Wajima and had also attended Nihon University. After being inspired by seeing Kaiketsu wrestle, albeit unsuccessfully, in the final bout to determine the winner of the 1972 spring grand sumo tournament, Wajima went on to win the following May tournament that year for his first top-division title.

    Wajima first faced formidable opponent Kitamoumi in the next tournament in Nagoya. Wajima won only eight of his 15 bouts in that tournament, but he secured 13 victories in the next one, and was promoted to the rank of ozeki alongside Takanohana. He stayed at that rank for just four tournaments and was promoted to the top rank of yokozuna after the summer tournament of 1973. It was one year later, after the 1974 Nagoya tournament, that Kitanoumi also secured promotion to the rank of yokozuna. Wajima won that tournament, having scored victories against Kitanoumi in both his final regulation bout and the clash to determine the tournament's winner.

    When Wajima later came to retire, he cited those bouts as his memorable ones. Kitanoumi similarly stated that those two losses formed his No. 1 memory. In his regulation bouts against Kitanoumi during his career, Wajima finished with 23 wins and 21 losses.

    Wajima had an outgoing personality, perming his hair when he was young, driving a luxury imported vehicle, and going out on the town at night, while Kitanoumi was seen as a strong, silent type. With this contrast they had an equal share of popularity.

    [​IMG]



    Wajima fights against Tiger Jeet Singh in November 1986 after making his debut as a professional wrestler. (Mainichi)
    With the spring tournament of 1981, Wajima marked his retirement. He assumed the position of head of the Hanakago Stable, but later left the Japan Sumo Association over trouble resulting from him putting up his trusteeship (elder stock) in the association as collateral to borrow a huge amount of money.

    Wajima went on to enter the world of professional wrestling and even worked as an American football coach. Even so, he had made appearances at gatherings of yokozuna wrestlers in recent years. And while he lost his voice to throat cancer in 2013, he had remained cheerful until recently.

    Swami
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens 'The Lovely Michelle'

    Message Count:
    5,819
    Trophy Points:
    3,142
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +8,432
    Member Since:
    January 25, 2011
    It seems that Chiyonofuji was starting out in makunouchi when Wajima was a Yokozuna. It would be interesting to see seem them wrestle even thought there were not at parallel levels at that time.

    I did some research and found out that Wajima won the basho the month I was born. I'm getting old.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

    Message Count:
    5,278
    Trophy Points:
    3,636
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +4,753
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    Chiyonofuji won their last bout in January 1981, when he won the yusho and moved up to ozeki.

    Yes, I agree Chiyonofuji and Wajima at their peaks would have been an interesting head-to-head. Probably Chiyonofuji would have the edge, both had great technique but Chiyonofuji's nage technique was possibly the best ever.

    Swami
     
  8. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

    Message Count:
    5,278
    Trophy Points:
    3,636
    Location:
    Ballymoney, Co Antrim
    Ratings:
    +4,753
    Member Since:
    April 2006
    Departed yokozuna Wajima brought charisma to ring
    by John Gunning



    Last week’s column featured links between sumo and American football, including a mention of how yokozuna Wakanohana took up the latter sport after retiring from the raised ring.

    He isn’t the only former yokozuna with connections to the gridiron, however.

    The 54th yokozuna, Wajima, likewise became involved in football post-retirement, serving for a time as general manager of ROCBULL, a now-defunct X-League team.

    The Ishikawa native, who passed away on Monday at age 70, was also by turns a pro-wrestler, restaurant owner, tourism ambassador, and generally a bon vivant who lived life on his own terms.

    Wajima’s outgoing personality and exciting style of sumo meant that, despite his later career being marred by controversy and scandal, he remained popular both inside the sumo world and among the wider general public.

    Evidence of the high regard in which he was held can be seen in the fact that Hakuho wore a golden mawashi, similar to the one that was Wajima’s trademark, when he equaled the former yokozuna’s record of 14 championships in May 2010.

    Hakuho on Tuesday shared photos of that moment on his social media accounts and thanked Wajima for all his help.

    The Mongolian native of course isn’t the only wrestler to wear a golden mawashi in honor of Wajima.

    Endo and Kagayaki, both of whom also hail from Ishikawa prefecture, regularly sport the color.

    Endo also shares an alma mater with the former yokozuna: it was at powerhouse Nihon University that Wajima first made his name in sumo.

    All-Japan college championships wins in 1968 and 1969 allowed the student yokozuna, a title bestowed to the winner of that tournament, to start his professional career in the third-highest makushita division. He promptly won back-to-back titles there as well to earn promotion to sekitori status.

    Incidentally, Wajima’s main rival in college, and his predecessor as student yokozuna, was Hidetoshi Tanaka. If that name sounds familiar it’s because he is currently the head of both the International Sumo Federation and president of Nihon University.

    In another gridiron link, an independent investigative panel concluded in July that Tanaka holds ultimate responsibility for the recent football violence scandal that rocked the game in Japan and saw national champions Nihon University Phoenix banned from play for the 2018 season.

    Wajima, for his part, was no stranger to controversy either. Known for his partying lifestyle while an active wrestler, he was rumored to enjoy the company of certain shady individuals. Later, as a stablemaster, it was discovered he had used his toshiyori-kabu (sumo elder stock) as collateral on a loan taken out to cover debts accrued from his failed restaurant business.

    That led to him being dismissed from the Japan Sumo Association entirely. His firing, along with the fact that he turned to professional wrestling, created such bad blood between Wajima and the JSA that it would be a full 24 years before he set foot in the Kokugikan again.

    While Wajima’s relationship with the Sumo Association deteriorated, his friendship with many inside it remained strong.

    Neither the aforementioned scandal nor his previous mismanagement of the stable had much effect on his wider popularity either.

    None of that should really come as any surprise. It’s one of the great ironies of sumo fandom that while most people love the sport for the pomp and ritual, as well as the stoic nature of its combatants, it’s the wrestlers with “personality” who are always the most popular.

    Whether it’s Asashoryu’s big mawashi strike or Takamisakari’s slapping himself into a frenzy before bouts, deviations from the norm are often what generate the most excitement at a tournament.

    Look no further than former yokozuna Takanohana for evidence of that. He was absolutely expressionless on the dohyo for virtually all of his 15-year career, but best remembered for one fleeting moment in May 2001 when he let his composure slip after downing Musashimaru to take the title, despite a serious knee injury that had left him barely able to walk.

    Wajima was in many ways the anti-Takanohana. He lived the celebrity lifestyle and loved it.

    That endeared him to fans who like their athletes to have color, but his exploits in the ring were how Wajima really made his name.

    The yokozuna’s golden mawashi was matched by his dominant “Golden Left” hold.

    So associated was he with that underarm grip that 37 years after he finished competing, its associated nickname was used in the headline of virtually every column and obituary about Wajima his week.

    Fighting in an era when most sumo bouts essentially had a standing start, Wajima’s belt battles with longtime friend and fellow star Takanohana (father of the recently-retired wrestler of the same name) were thrilling affairs.

    However, It was his later rivalry with yokozuna Kitanoumi that pushed both men’s popularity to new heights.

    The contrast between the tall, muscular Wajima who drove around in a Lincoln Continental and the stocky, powerful and gruff Kitanoumi could not have been greater and only added to the drama.

    While the younger Kitanoumi had a more successful career overall, the pair’s 46 bouts over nine years were almost equally split, with Wajima holding a slight 24-22 edge.

    At the time of his retirement as well, Wajima’s 14 Emperor’s Cups were good enough for third all time, behind only Kitanoumi and Taiho. In November 1977 he was actually joint-second overall in terms of championships won, alongside the legendary Futabayama.

    While Wajima may have had his failings and made his share of mistakes, what he achieved both inside and outside the ring means that with his passing, sumo has lost one of its all-time great champions.

    Swami
     

Users Who Have Read This Thread (Total: 2)

Share This Page