Chiyonofuji Mitsugu

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Chiyonofuji Mitsugu
千代の富士 貢
Kokonoe.jpg
Chiyonofuji in 2010
Personal information
Born Mitsugu Akimoto
(1955-06-01)June 1, 1955
Fukushima, Hokkaido, Japan
Died July 31, 2016(2016-07-31) (aged 61)
Tokyo, Japan
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 127 kg (280 lb; 20.0 st)
Career
Stable Kokonoe
Record 1045-437-170
Debut September, 1970
Highest rank Yokozuna (July, 1981)
Retired May, 1991
Championships 31 (Makuuchi)
1 (Makushita)
Special Prizes Outstanding Performance (1)
Fighting Spirit (1)
Technique (5)
Gold Stars 3
Mienoumi (2)
Wakanohana II
* Up to date as of July 2007.

Chiyonofuji Mitsugu (千代の富士 貢?) (June 1, 1955 – July 31, 2016), born Mitsugu Akimoto (秋元 貢 Akimoto Mitsugu?), was a Japanese champion sumo wrestler and the 58th yokozuna of the sport. Following his retirement as a wrestler, he was the stable master of Kokonoe stable until the time of his death.

Chiyonofuji was considered one of the greatest yokozuna of recent times, winning 31 yūshō or tournament championships, second at the time only to Taihō. He was particularly remarkable for his longevity in sumo's top rank, which he held for a period of ten years from 1981 to 1991. Promoted at the age of twenty-six after winning his second championship, his performance improved with age, winning more tournaments in his thirties than any other wrestler and dominating the sport in the second half of the 1980s.[1] He finally retired in May 1991, just short of his thirty-sixth birthday. This is in contrast to most recent yokozuna who have tended to retire around 30.

During his 21-year professional career Chiyonofuji set records for most career victories (1045) and most wins in the top makuuchi division (807), earning an entry in the Guinness World Records.[2] Both of these records were later broken by Kaiō Hiroyuki.[3]

He won the Kyushu tournament, one of the six annual honbasho, a record eight consecutive years from 1981 until 1988, and also set the record for the longest postwar run of consecutive wins (53 bouts in 1988). That record stood for 22 years until Hakuhō broke it with his 54th straight win in September 2010.[4]

In a sport where weight is often regarded as vital, Chiyonofuji was quite light at around 120 kg (260 lb). He relied on superior technique and muscle to defeat opponents. He was the lightest yokozuna since Tochinoumi in the 1960s. Upon his retirement he became an elder of the Japan Sumo Association and became the Kokonoe-oyakata the following year.

Early life[edit]

Statue of Chiyonofuji in his home town of Fukushima

He was born in Fukushima, a town in the Matsumae District of Hokkaidō, northern Japan.[5] He was a son of a fisherman. At school he excelled in athletics events, particularly running.[6] He was scouted at the age of 15 by the Kokonoe stable's head Chiyonoyama, who had served as the 41st yokozuna and was from the same Fukushima town. Chiyonoyama promised him a trip to Tokyo in an airplane, which excited the young Akimoto as he had never flown before.[7] At the time of his debut he weighed just 71 kg (157 lb). Chiyonoyama died in 1977, at which time Kitanofuji, the 52nd yokozuna and also a Hokkaidō native, took over the stable.[1]

Ring name[edit]

His shikona (ring name) 千代の富士 (Chiyonofuji) was formed from those of the two previous yokozuna from his stable, Chiyonoyama and Kitanofuji. 千代 (Chiyo, thousand years) is a word used to mean forever. 富士 (Fuji) is the same as that in 富士山 (Mount Fuji). His nickname was "The Wolf" due to his ferocity and masculine facial features.[1][8]

Early career[edit]

Chiyonofuji began his career in September 1970.[8] He reached the second highest jūryō division in November 1974, and was promoted to the top makuuchi division in September 1975.[8] However, he lasted for only one tournament before being demoted again, and recurring shoulder dislocation injuries led to him falling back to the unsalaried ranks.[9] He finally won promotion back to the top division in January 1978. After he got a fighting spirit prize (Kantō-shō) in May, he reached komusubi (the fourth-highest rank) for the first time. During his early top division career he was often compared with another lightweight wrestler who was popular with sumo fans, Takanohana I. Takanohana had first come across Chiyonofuji whilst on a regional tour and encouraged him to give sumo a try. Later, he also advised Chiyonofuji to give up smoking, which helped him put on some extra weight.[10]

In 1979, due to his shoulder trouble, Chiyonofuji briefly fell to the second division, but he soon came back to the top division. Encouraged by his stablemaster, he began to rely not only on throwing techniques, which increased the risk of reinjuring his shoulders, but also on gaining ground quickly and forcing out his opponents.[11] Showing much more consistency, he earned three kinboshi (i.e. defeated yokozuna in three regular matches) in total in March and July 1980 tournaments, where he also got technique prizes (Ginō-shō). He fought again as a komusubi in May and September tournaments, in the latter of which he won 10 matches in the top division for the first time. He reached sekiwake (the third-highest rank), and stayed at this rank for only two tournament. As a sekiwake, he scored 11–4 in November, and in January 1981 he scored 14–1, losing only one regular match to dominating yokozuna Kitanoumi, and then defeated him in the subsequent playoff to win a top makuuchi division title for the first time.[8] This earned him promotion to ōzeki, the second-highest rank.[8] While making these speedy rises, he also got technique prizes in three consecutive tournaments to that in January, where he also received an outstanding performance prize (Shukun-shō). Also as an ōzeki he scored well in the following three tournaments to July 1981, where he again defeated Kitanoumi and won his second title.[8] After this victory, he was promoted to yokozuna, the 58th in sumo history.[5]

Yokozuna[edit]

Chiyonofuji had to pull out of his first tournament as a Yokozuna with an injury, but he returned to win the championship in November, defeating Asashio in a playoff. He later said that this victory was the foundation upon which he built his subsequent success as a yokozuna.[11] He was to win the Kyushu tournament eight consecutive years from 1981 to 1988, a record dominance of any of the six honbasho.

As his rival Kitanoumi went into a long slump, Chiyonofuji dominated sumo in 1982, winning four of the six tournaments.[12] However, over the next two years, another yokozuna Takanosato, emerged to challenge him, and he also suffered a number of injury problems. He was restricted to just one championship in the nine tournaments held from May 1983 to September 1984.[12] But Kitanoumi retired in January 1985, with the aging Takanosato following a year later, and Chiyonofuji resumed his dominance. In 1986 he won five out of the six tournaments held,[12] the first time this had been done since Kitanoumi in 1978. Despite being older and lighter than nearly all his opponents, he dominated the sport throughout the 1980s.[1]

In 1988, he went on a winning streak of 53 bouts,[5] the third longest in sumo history second to current yokozuna Hakuhō's 63, and Futabayama's all-time record of 69. The sequence began on the 7th day of the May 1988 tournament and continued through the July and September 1988 tournaments, ending only on the final day of the November 1988 tournament when he was defeated by Ōnokuni. Had he won that bout, he would have been the first wrestler ever to win three consecutive tournaments with 15-0 records. Nonetheless, his winning run was the best ever in the postwar period,[5] surpassing the 45 bouts won by Taihō in 1968 and 1969. In July 1989 he took his 28th championship in a playoff from his stablemate Hokutoumi, marking the first time ever that two yokozuna from the same stable had met in competition.[13] Shortly before the tournament began he had lost his youngest daughter Ai to sudden infant death syndrome.[14] In September 1989 Chiyonofuji surpassed Ōshio's record of 964 career wins[5] and became the first sumo wrestler to receive the People's Honour Award from the Japanese Prime Minister.[5] In March 1990, he secured his 1000th win. A 32nd tournament title would have tied the record set by Taihō in 1971,[15] but his 31st championship in November 1990 proved to be his last.[12][1]

In the opening tournament of 1991, Chiyonofuji surpassed Kitanoumi's record of 804 top division wins but injured himself on the second day and had to withdraw. He returned in May, but he lost on the opening day of the tournament to the 18-year-old rising star and future Yokozuna Takanohana Koji (then known as Takahanada).[5] It was estimated that half of the Japanese population watched the match on TV.[11] Coincidentally, Takahanada's father, Takanohana Kenshi, had retired in 1981 shortly after losing to Chiyonofuji. Chiyonofuji beat Itai on the next day, but this was to be his final win. After losing another match with Takatōriki on the third day,[5] Chiyonofuji announced his own retirement, a few weeks short of his 36th birthday.[16]

Retirement from the ring[edit]

In September 1989[5] while Chiyonofuji was still active, the Japan Sumo Association decided to proffer the special status of ichidai-toshiyori (one-generation sumo-elder using his ring name as his elder name) to him,[17][18] but he declined it because he intended to inherit another elder name.[1] Following his retirement from the ring in May 1991, Chiyonofuji inherited the elder name of Jinmaku; then in 1992 he purchased the Kokonoe stable from Kitanofuji and the two exchanged their elder names (Jinmaku and Kokonoe).[1][19][20] The purchase price of the stable was reported as being around 50 million yen, below the market rate for a stable.[1] Under his leadership, the stable produced several top wrestlers including former ōzeki Chiyotaikai, former komusubi Chiyotenzan and former maegashira Chiyohakuhō. As of March 2016, Kokonoe stable is one of the most successful stables in sumo in terms of quantity of sekitori, with two men (Chiyotairyū and Chiyootori) in the top division and four (Chiyomaru, Chiyonokuni, Chiyoshoma and Chiyo-o) in jūryō.[21] He also served for some years as a ringside judge.[22]

In February 2008, he joined the board of directors of the Japan Sumo Association, where he was responsible for organising the regional tours or jungyō, but he had to resign in April 2011 after his wrestler Chiyohakuhō admitted involvement in match-fixing and retired from sumo.[23] He returned in the January 2012 elections as the Operations director (the second most senior position in the Association's hierarchy), but was unseated two years later. He chose not to run for a board position in the 2016 elections, citing a lack of support.[24]

On May 31, 2015, he marked his 60th birthday by performing the kanreki dohyō-iri at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan, becoming the tenth former yokozuna to do so.[25] Two active yokozuna were his attendants, with Hakuhō the tachimochi and Harumafuji acting as tsuyuharai.[25]

Death[edit]

Kokonoe underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in July 2015, and was noticeably weak when speaking to reporters at the Aki basho in September of that year.[26] Having reportedly told associates that the cancer had spread to his heart and lungs, he had been hospitalized since the fourth day of the Nagoya tournament in 2016.[27] He died in Tokyo on July 31, 2016 at the age of 61.[28][29] The chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, former yokozuna Hokutoumi who was a stablemate and protégé of Chiyonofuji, was too grief-stricken to speak to the press in the immediate aftermath of Kokonoe's death.[27] His former stablemaster, ex-yokozuna Kitanofuji, said that he was "blessed with a wonderful disciple."[27] Another former yokozuna, Takanohana, who hastened Chiyonofuji's retirement by defeating him in 1991, recalled his fear of Chiyonofuji's "metal body" when training with him.[27] On August 2 the Sumo Association announced that a farewell ceremony for Chiyonofuji will be held at the entrance of the Ryōgoku Kokugikan on October 1.[30]

Fighting style[edit]

Throughout his career, Chiyonofuji's trademark kimarite or technique was uwatenage, or overarm throw.[8] He preferred a migi-yotsu, or left hand outside, right hand inside grip on his opponent's mawashi.[8] His left hand outer grip was so effective that some commentators referred to it as his "death grip." Uwatenage was his second most common winning technique at sekitori level after yorikiri, or force out.[31] He was also well known for tsuridashi, or lift out. He had knowledge of a wide range of other techniques as well, employing 41 different kimarite in his career.[31] In January 1987, he won with the very rare amiuchi, or fisherman's net casting throw, and joked to the press afterwards that it was appropriate for him as he was the son of a fisherman.[32] Chiyonofuji's muscular physique, athleticism and dramatic throws made him the most successful and one of the most popular wrestlers of his day.[8]

Career record[edit]

Chiyonofuji Mitsugu[12]
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
1970 x x x x (Maezumo) East Jonokuchi #10
5–2
 
1971 East Jonidan #57
4–3
 
West Jonidan #38
4–3
 
West Jonidan #19
4–3
 
West Jonidan #5
3–4
 
West Jonidan #26
5–2
 
East Sandanme #61
Sat out due to injury
0–0–7
1972 West Jonidan #19
5–2
 
West Sandanme #60
5–2
 
East Sandanme #31
4–3
 
West Sandanme #20
5–2
 
East Makushita #59
3–4
 
East Sandanme #8
4–3
 
1973 East Makushita #59
4–3
 
East Makushita #51
4–3
 
East Makushita #45
2–2–3
 
West Sandanme #2
6–1
 
East Makushita #31
5–2
 
West Makushita #18
3–4
 
1974 West Makushita #25
5–2
 
East Makushita #15
4–3
 
East Makushita #11
3–4
 
East Makushita #20
5–2
 
East Makushita #11
7–0–P
Champion

 
East Jūryō #12
9–6
 
1975 West Jūryō #4
6–9
 
West Jūryō #8
8–7
 
West Jūryō #6
9–6
 
East Jūryō #2
9–6
 
East Maegashira #12
5–10
 
East Jūryō #4
4–8–3
 
1976 West Jūryō #13
4–11
 
East Makushita #7
5–2
 
West Makushita #1
4–3
 
West Jūryō #13
9–6
 
East Jūryō #10
8–7
 
East Jūryō #6
5–10
 
1977 East Jūryō #11
8–7
 
West Jūryō #10
10–5
 
East Jūryō #2
5–10
 
West Jūryō #9
8–7
 
East Jūryō #7
10–5
 
East Jūryō #1
9–6
 
1978 East Maegashira #12
8–7
 
East Maegashira #8
8–7
 
East Maegashira #5
9–6
F
West Komusubi #1
5–10
 
East Maegashira #4
4–11
 
West Maegashira #10
9–6
 
1979 East Maegashira #4
5–10
 
West Maegashira #8
2–6–7
 
West Jūryō #2
9–4–2
 
West Maegashira #14
8–7
 
East Maegashira #10
8–7
 
East Maegashira #7
7–8
 
1980 East Maegashira #8
8–7
 
East Maegashira #3
8–7
T
West Komusubi #1
6–9
 
West Maegashira #2
9–6
T
East Komusubi #1
10–5
T
East Sekiwake #1
11–4
T
1981 East Sekiwake #1
14–1–P
TO
East Ōzeki #1
11–4
 
East Ōzeki #1
13–2
 
East Ōzeki #1
14–1
 
West Yokozuna #1
1–2–12
 
East Yokozuna #2
12–3–P
 
1982 East Yokozuna #2
12–3
 
West Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2–P
 
East Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #1
10–5
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
1983 East Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #1
15–0
 
East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
West Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
1984 East Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
West Yokozuna #1
4–4–7
 
East Yokozuna #2
11–4
 
Yokozuna #2
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
East Yokozuna #2
10–5
 
West Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
1985 East Yokozuna #1
15–0
 
East Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
East Yokozuna #1
15–0
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
1986 East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
1–2–12
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1–P
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
1987 East Yokozuna #1
12–3–P
 
East Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
East Yokozuna #1
10–5
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
9–2–4
 
East Yokozuna #2
15–0
 
1988 East Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
East Yokozuna #2
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
15–0
 
East Yokozuna #1
15–0
 
East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
1989 East Yokozuna #1
11–4
 
West Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
East Yokozuna #2
12–3–P
 
West Yokozuna #1
15–0
 
East Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
1990 East Yokozuna #1
14–1
 
East Yokozuna #1
10–5
 
West Yokozuna #1
13–2
 
East Yokozuna #1
12–3
 
East Yokozuna #1
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
East Yokozuna #2
13–2
 
1991 East Yokozuna #1
2–1–12
 
West Yokozuna #2
Sat out due to injury
0–0–15
West Yokozuna #2
Retired
1–3
x x x
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

Honours[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h West, Mark D. (2005). Law in Everyday Japan: Sex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes. University of Chicago Press. p. 81-83. ISBN 9780226894096. 
  2. ^ Glenday, Craig (1 January 2009). "Guinness World Records 2009". Bantam Books – via Google Books. 
  3. ^ "Kaio breaks Chiyonofuji's makuuchi win record". The Japan Times ONLINE. Japan Times. Kyodo News. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Hakuho owns longest postwar win streak". The Japan Times Online. 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "元横綱・千代の富士の九重親方が死去" [Former Yokozuna Chiyonofuji, Kokonoe Master Dead]. NHK. 31 July 2016. Archived from the original on 31 July 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016. 
  6. ^ Patmore, Angela (1990). The Giants of Sumo. Macdonald/Queen Anne Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-356-18120-0. 
  7. ^ Sharnoff, p. 5
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "元横綱千代の富士の九重親方が死去、61歳 史上3位の優勝31度" [Former Yokozuna Chiyonofuji, Kokonoe Master dead at 61, 31 career championships 3rd highest in history]. Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). 31 July 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016. 
  9. ^ "「いい目をしとるな。がんばれよ」。後に横綱、千代の富士となる…" ["You're looking good. Keep fighting" He later became Yokozuna Chiyonofuji]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 2 August 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Sharnoff, p. 56
  11. ^ a b c Cheerleader Productions (October 1991). "Chiyonofuji:The Way of the Wolf". Sumo. Channel 4, UK. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "Chiyonofuji Mitsugu Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2012-07-27. 
  13. ^ Sharnoff, p. 62
  14. ^ Sharnoff, p. 95
  15. ^ "Hakuho bests legendary Taiho's record with 33rd career championship". Japan Times. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  16. ^ Sterngold, James (1991-05-28). "Little Big Man Of Sumo Retires". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  17. ^ Ichidai-toshiyori is offered in recognition of great achievements in sumo world. Those who attained this special status include the 48th Yokozuna Taihō and the 55th Yokozuna Kitanoumi.
  18. ^ "一代年寄 [ichidai-toshiyori]". デジタル大辞泉 [Digital Daijisen] (in Japanese). Shogakukan.  on the database of kotobank.jp. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
  19. ^ "千代の富士貢 [Chiyonofuji Mitsugu]". デジタル大辞泉 [Digital Daijisen] (in Japanese). Shogakukan.  on the database of kotobank.jp. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
  20. ^ "北の富士勝昭 [Kitanofuji Katsuaki]". デジタル版 日本人名大辞典+Plus [Great biographical dictionary of Japan (Digital enlarged edition)] (in Japanese). Kodansha.  on the database of kotobank.jp. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
  21. ^ "Sumo Beya Guide – Kokonoe Beya". Japan Sumo Association. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  22. ^ "Sumo - Traditional Japanese Wrestling". Japan Zone. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  23. ^ "Sumo: Stablemaster Tanigawa, 19 wrestlers booted for match fixing". Mainichi Daily News. 1 April 2011. Archived from the original on 1 April 2011. 
  24. ^ "Eleven stable masters declare candidacies for JSA board". Japan Times. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2016. 
  25. ^ a b "Ex-yokozuna Chiyonofuji returns to sumo ring for 60th birthday ceremony". The Mainichi. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2016. 
  26. ^ "Sumo great former yokozuna Chiyonofuji dies at age 61". Asahi Shimbun. 1 August 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016. 
  27. ^ a b c d "Sumo wrestlers pay tribute to Chiyonofuji". Japan Times. 1 August 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016. 
  28. ^ "Sumo icon Chiyonofuji dies at 61". 31 July 2016 – via Japan Times Online. 
  29. ^ 元横綱千代の富士の九重親方が死去 61歳. yahoo.co.jp (July 31, 2016)
  30. ^ "Japan Sumo Association announces farewell ceremony for late legend Chiyonofuji". Japan Times. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2016. 
  31. ^ a b "Chiyonofuji bouts by kimarite". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  32. ^ Sharnoff

Bibliography[edit]

  • Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo:The Living Sport and Tradition. Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0283-X. 

External links[edit]

Previous:
Mienoumi Tsuyoshi
58th Yokozuna
1981–1991
Next:
Takanosato Toshihide
Yokozuna is not a successive rank, and more than one wrestler can share the title
Preceded by
Ayako Okamoto
Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize Winner
1988
Succeeded by
Retained
Preceded by
Retained
Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize Winner
1989
Succeeded by
Hideo Nomo