Wakanohana Kanji I

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Wakanohana Kanji
若乃花 幹士
Wakanohana Kanji I.jpg
Personal information
Born Katsuji Hanada
(1928-03-16)March 16, 1928
Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan
Died September 1, 2010(2010-09-01) (aged 82)
Tokyo, Japan
Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 12 in)
Weight 105 kg (231 lb)
Career
Stable Nishonoseki, Shibatayama
Hanakago
Current rank Yokozuna
Record 593-253-70-4 draws
Debut November, 1946
Highest rank Yokozuna (January, 1958)
Retired May, 1962
Championships 10 (Makuuchi)
1 (Sandanme)
1 (Jonidan)
Special Prizes Outstanding Performance (2)
Fighting Spirit (2)
Technique (1)
Gold Stars 6 (Haguroyama (2), Chiyonoyama (2), Azumafuji (2))
* Up to date as of August 2012.

Wakanohana Kanji I (若乃花 幹士 Wakanohana Kanji?, March 16, 1928 – September 1, 2010) was a sumo wrestler, the sport's 45th yokozuna (the highest-ranking position).

Wakanohana's younger brother (by twenty-two years) was the late former ōzeki Takanohana Kenshi and he was the uncle of Takanohana Kōji and Wakanohana Masaru. He won ten top division yūshō or tournament championships during his career and at a fighting weight of around 100 kg was one of the lightest yokozuna ever. He had a long-standing rivalry with Tochinishiki and was one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1950s. After his retirement in 1962 he established Futagoyama stable and was also head of the Japan Sumo Association from 1988 until 1992.

Career[edit]

He was born in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture and moved to Hokkaidō as a child. After working as a stevedore, he was scouted by the maegashira Onoumi,[1] joining Nishonoseki stable in November 1946. He was trained harshly by Rikidōzan in Nishonoseki stable, but he reportedly bit Rikidōzan's leg in retaliation for his training.[2] Onoumi became head coach of Shibatayama stable after his retirement in May 1952, and Wakanohana followed him to the new stable. It was renamed Hanakago stable in September 1953.

He reached the top division in 1950. During his career he was nicknamed the Dohyō no Oni, or Devil of the dohyō due to his great fighting spirit and endurance. In September 1955 he fought a bout against yokozuna Chiyonoyama that lasted for over 17 minutes before being declared a draw.[1] (Most sumo matches are over in a few seconds). He was promoted to ōzeki after that tournament. He won his first top division championship in May 1956. Shortly before the following tournament his four year old eldest son Katsuo was scalded to death when a boiling hot pot of chankonabe fell on him.[3] Despite being devastated by the tragedy,[4] Wakanohana chose to compete in the tournament but ended up dropping out with a fever.[3] He had to wait until January 1958 for promotion to yokozuna, which was confirmed shortly after he took his second tournament championship. He was the first yokozuna produced by the Nishonoseki ichimon or group of stables in over 20 years and consequently he had to borrow the keshō-mawashi of the former Futabayama to perform his first dohyō-iri or yokozuna ring entering ceremony.[4]

Wakanohana's great rival as yokozuna was Tochinishiki. They were very evenly matched, being of similar height and weight, and both ended up with ten top division titles each. In March 1960, they faced each other undefeated on the final day – the first time ever that two yokozuna had met like this.[3] Wakanohana won the match and Tochinishiki retired after the next tournament. Wakanohana kept going until the new era of yokozuna Taihō and Kashiwado, retiring in May 1962.

Wakanohana was such a popular wrestler that he even starred in a feature film 若ノ花物語 土俵の鬼 Wakanohana monogatari dohyou no oni about his life, made by the Nikkatsu movie studio and released across Japan December 27, 1956.[4][5]

Retirement from sumo[edit]

After retirement he set up his own training stable, Futagoyama, which produced a string of top wrestlers, including ōzeki Takanohana (his brother) and Wakashimazu, and yokozuna Wakanohana II and Takanosato. He was also head of the Japan Sumo Association from 1988 to 1992.[6] Among his reforms was an attempt to improve the quality of the tachi-ai or initial charge of a bout by fining wrestlers who engaged in matta, or false starts. In his first year as head of the Association, he also performed his kanreki dohyō-iri or '60th year ring entrance ceremony' to commemorate his years as yokozuna. At the end of his last tournament in charge he presented the Emperor's Cup to his nephew, Takahanada. Upon his retirement from the Sumo Association in 1993, his stable merged with his brother's Fujishima stable. He became director of the Sumo Museum. He died of kidney cancer in September 2010 at the age of 82. Umegatani I, who lived to 83, is the only yokozuna to live longer than him.[7]

Fighting style[edit]

Wakanohana was a noted technician, and his trademark was his overarm throwing techniques.[7] As well as uwatenage and dashinage he was also well known for yobimodashi, or pulling body slam, a kimarite that has virtually disappeared from professional sumo today. He was equally adept at both a hidari-yotsu (right hand outside, left hand inside) and migi-yotsu (the reverse) grip on his opponent's mawashi.

Pre-modern top division record[edit]

  • The New Year tournament began and the Spring tournament returned to Osaka in 1953.
Wakanohana Kanji I[8]
- Spring
Haru basho, Tokyo
Summer
Natsu basho, Tokyo
Autumn
Aki basho, Tokyo
1950 West Maegashira #18
11–4
F
East Maegashira #9
10–5
 
East Maegashira #4
4–11
 
1951 East Maegashira #7
11–4
F
East Maegashira #1
8–7
East Komusubi #1
7–8
 
1952 West Komusubi #2
5–10
 
West Maegashira #4
5–10
 
West Maegashira #9
10–5
 
- New Year
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
Spring
Haru basho, Osaka
Summer
Natsu basho, Tokyo
Autumn
Aki basho, Tokyo
1953 West Maegashira #3
8–7
East Maegashira #1
8–7
East Maegashira #1
8–7
West Komusubi #1
8–7
 
1954 West Sekiwake #1
8–7
O
East Sekiwake #1
9–6
 
East Sekiwake #1
9–6
 
West Sekiwake #1
11–4
O
1955 East Sekiwake #1
7–7–1draw
 
West Sekiwake #1
10–4–1draw
 
West Sekiwake #1
8–7
 
West Sekiwake #1
10–4–1draw
T
1956 East Ōzeki #2
13–2
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3–P
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–2–1
 
Record given as win-loss-absent    Top Division Champion Retired Lower Divisions

Sanshō key: F=Fighting spirit; O=Outstanding performance; T=Technique     Also shown: =Kinboshi(s); P=Playoff(s)
Divisions: MakuuchiJūryōMakushitaSandanmeJonidanJonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks: YokozunaŌzekiSekiwakeKomusubiMaegashira

Modern top division tournament record[edit]

  • Since the addition of the Kyushu tournament in 1957 and the Nagoya tournament in 1958, the yearly schedule has remained unchanged.
Year in sumo January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
March
Haru basho, Osaka
May
Natsu basho, Tokyo
July
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
September
Aki basho, Tokyo
November
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
1957 East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
East Ōzeki #1
10–5
 
East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
Not held East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
East Ōzeki #1
12–3
 
1958 East Ōzeki #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #2
12–3
 
West Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
East Yokozuna #2
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
12–2–1draw
 
1959 East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #2
14–1–P
 
West Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
West Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
1960 West Yokozuna #1
0–3–12
 
East Yokozuna #2
15–0
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
5–4–6
 
1961 West Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
West Yokozuna #1
10–5
 
East Yokozuna #1
3–4–8
 
West Yokozuna #1
10–5
 
East Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
1962 East Yokozuna #2
11–4
 
West Yokozuna #1
0–2–13
 
East Yokozuna #2
Retired
0–0
Record given as win-loss-absent    Top Division Champion Retired Lower Divisions

Sanshō key: F=Fighting spirit; O=Outstanding performance; T=Technique     Also shown: =Kinboshi(s); P=Playoff(s)
Divisions: MakuuchiJūryōMakushitaSandanmeJonidanJonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks: YokozunaŌzekiSekiwakeKomusubiMaegashira

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lewin, Brian (August 2005). "What will become of the dynasty?". Sumo Fan Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  2. ^ Kobayashi, Toshiharu. 若乃花幹士 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  3. ^ a b c Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0283-X. 
  4. ^ a b c Kuroda, Joe (April 2008). "The 45th Yokozuna Wakanohana Kanji". Sumo Fan Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-28. [dead link]
  5. ^ http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1956/cf005560.htm accessed 8 February 2009
  6. ^ "The Gallery - Rijicho of the Kyokai". The Oyakata Gallery. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  7. ^ a b "'Devil of the Dohyo' Wakanohana dies". Japan Times. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "Wakanohana Kanji Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 

External links[edit]

Previous:
Tochinishiki Kiyotaka
45th Yokozuna
1958 – 1962
Next:
Asashio Tarō III
Yokozuna is not a successive rank, and more than one wrestler can share the title
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tochinishiki Kiyotaka
Chairman of the Japan Sumo Association
1988–1992
Succeeded by
Sadanoyama Shinmatsu