|Born||Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev
July 8, 1988
|Height||1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)|
|Weight||156 kg (344 lb)|
|Highest rank||Maegashira 1 (July, 2008)|
|* Up to date as of August 2008.|
Wakanohō Toshinori (born July 8, 1988 as Сосла́н Алекса́ндрович Гагло́ев Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev in Alagir, Republic of North Ossetia–Alania in the Russian Federation) is a former sumo wrestler. His highest rank was maegashira 1. He became the first active wrestler to be dismissed from sumo, after being arrested for possession of cannabis in August 2008. He is currently playing college football at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
He was a freestyle wrestler in Russia, but as his weight continued to increase past the 120 kg (260 lb) upper limit for competitions, he switched to sumo. Having known fellow Russian sumo wrestler Rohō for many years, when he first arrived in Japan he stayed at Rohō's training stable, Ōtake-beya, for about six months to learn the basics. Due to the restrictions on foreigners, he could not join that stable, but its stablemaster Taihō had connections to the former Wakanohana Kanji II, and he joined Magaki stable instead. His shikona of Wakanohō was formed as a combination of Wakanohana II and Taihō's names.
Wakanohō made his professional debut in March 2005. He moved through the lower divisions quickly, winning the championship in the jonidan division in May 2005 with a perfect 7-0 record. It took him a year to climb up the third makushita division and in November 2006 a 4-3 record at Makushita 1 East earned him promotion to the second jūryō division and elite sekitori status. At 18 years and five months, he was the youngest foreign born wrestler to do so. In his jūryō debut he managed only five wins against ten losses, his first ever make-koshi or losing score and was demoted. However, he returned to the second division in May 2007 and three solid performances of 10-5, 8-7 and 10-5 earned him promotion to the top makuuchi division in November 2007. He was the sixth youngest wrestler to reach makuuchi in the modern era. He came through with nine wins against six losses in his top division debut, and a 10-5 mark in January 2008 saw him move into the upper maegashira ranks for the March 2008 tournament. Fighting all the top ranked wrestlers for the first time, he defeated ozeki Kaiō and secured his kachi-koshi or winning record on the final day.
During the May 2008 tournament he was reprimanded by the Japan Sumo Association after he smashed a door in the dressing room following a defeat to Ama by the technique of utchari. However he once again secured his majority of wins on the final day, his fourth straight kachi-koshi in the top division. However, in the July 2008 tournament, fighting from what was to be his highest rank of maegashira 1 he lost his first eight bouts and finished on 4-11.
Wakanohō favoured belt techniques and preferred a migi-yotsu (left hand outside, right hand inside) grip his opponent's mawashi. He was known for occasionally jumping straight up into the air at the tachi-ai or initial charge, a highly unorthodox move which some commentators put down to youthful bravado. He was also criticised for relying too much on side-steps and slap-downs. Although his most common winning technique was yorikiri (force out), the slap down or hatakikomi was second and he had a much higher percentage of wins with this technique than most of his contemporaries.
Arrest and dismissal
On 18 August 2008, Wakanohō was arrested for possession of cannabis. A wallet belonging to Wakanohō was found on 24 June and handed in to police. It contained a Russian made cigarette mixed with what appeared to be cannabis, and the wrestler's identification. Wakanohō said he bought 2 bags of marijuana, a rolled joint, a pipe and 2 Russian cigarettes from a Russian and a black man for 20,000 yen in a club in Roppongi. Police have also searched his apartment and private quarters at Magaki stable and recovered a small quantity of cannabis in a bag, and a pipe used to smoke the drug.
On 21 August, the Japan Sumo Association held a meeting of the board of directors and decided on the immediate dismissal of Wakanohō. It was the first time an active rikishi has been dismissed. He could have faced up to five years in prison or deportation from Japan. However, on 8 September, after eight days in police detention, he was released without punishment, as he was a minor at the time of the incident and the amount of cannabis in his possession was very small. Speaking to the press Wakanoho apologised for his actions and asked for forgiveness, but denied ever smoking with Rohō and Hakurozan, both of whom were also dismissed after failing drug tests for cannabis. He visited the Ryōgoku Kokugikan and asked to be readmitted to sumo, but the Sumo Association's directors refused his request. He responded by filing a lawsuit for unfair dismissal against the Association.
In the banzuke of the aki basho in September 2008, the East Maegashira #8 ranking that had been scheduled to be allocated for Wakanohō was left vacant. The last time this happened was when Tokitsuumi retired in October 2007 and was left off the November 2007 banzuke.
In January 2009 Wakanoho dropped all legal action against the Sumo association and the two sides reached an amicable agreement regarding his severance pay, believed to be 5.8 million yen. He had an informal hair-cutting ceremony or danpatsu-shiki, symbolically accepting that his sumo career was at an end. It was held in an hotel in Tokyo with no other rikishi or coaches attending. On 13 February, Wakanohō returned to Russia, as his working visa had expired.
Allegations of match-fixing
During a press conference on 29 September 2008 Wakanoho claimed he was forced to accept bribes to forfeit sumo matches. He said he would appear for the Shukan Gendai magazine's defence of the lawsuit brought by the Sumo Association over other match-fixing allegations. In an interview for the tabloid he claimed that ozeki Kotoōshū and jūryō wrestler Kasuganishiki had asked him to throw matches against them. Both wrestlers denied the allegations. Wakanoho also called sumo a "show" and a "circus." In another instalment for the same magazine he made similar allegations against ozeki Kaio and Chiyotaikai, who also denied the claims. In a third article he suggested that he smoked cannabis in Makagi stable with Georgian wrestler Tochinoshin, contradicting his sworn police statement that he was alone.
On 28 November he retracted these claims and apologised to those he had implicated, saying he had been told by the magazine that he would be back in the Sumo Association "in one week" if he made the allegations. He said the Shukan Gendai made up the story and cited the names of the four wrestlers, for which he received 2.5 million yen in cash. The magazine responded by saying his retraction "(did) not make any sense and cannot be thought of as true."
In February 2011, following a match-fixing scandal involving Kasuganishiki, Chiyohakuho and a number of other juryo wrestlers, the former Wakanoho changed his position once again, and said he had been involved in yaocho after all. He explained that the reason that he denied his original yaocho claims was because the Japan Sumo Association promised to pay him retirement money if he did, and that they later reneged on this agreement (the Sumo Association has denied any such agreement ever taking place). He also named 21 other wrestlers against whom he performed yaocho in the February 21, 2011 edition of Shukan Gendai magazine.
|Year in sumo||January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
Haru basho, Osaka
Natsu basho, Tokyo
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
Aki basho, Tokyo
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
|2005||(Maezumo)||East Jonokuchi #18
|West Jonidan #64
|West Jonidan #26
|East Sandanme #30
|2006||West Makushita #49
|West Makushita #21
|West Makushita #12
|East Makushita #7
|East Makushita #6
|East Makushita #1
|2007||West Jūryō #12
|East Makushita #2
|East Jūryō #13
|East Jūryō #4
|West Jūryō #1
|West Maegashira #13
|2008||East Maegashira #10
|East Maegashira #4
|West Maegashira #2
|West Maegashira #1
|East Maegashira #8
|Record given as win-loss-absent
Yokozuna — Ōzeki — Sekiwake — Komusubi — Maegashira
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