Wakanohō Toshinori

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Wakanohō Toshinori
若ノ鵬 寿則
Wakanoho 2008.jpg
Personal information
Born Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev
(1988-07-08) July 8, 1988 (age 28)
Alagir, North Ossetian ASSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)
Weight 156 kg (344 lb)
Stable Magaki
Record 131-81-0
Debut March 2005
Highest rank Maegashira 1 (July, 2008)
Retired August, 2008
Championships 1 (Jonidan)
* Up to date as of August 2008.

Wakanohō Toshinori (born July 8, 1988 as Сосла́н Алекса́ндрович Гагло́ев Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev in Alagir, North Ossetian ASSR, Soviet Union) is a retired Russian sumo wrestler of Ossetian ethnicity. 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 has also played college football at the University of South Florida, Webber International University, and Warner University. As of July 2014, he lives in Florida and is training for the National Football League.


He was a freestyle wrestler in Russia, but as his weight continued to increase past the 120-kilogram (260-pound) upper limit for competitions, he switched to sumo.[1] 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.[1] 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.[1] His shikona of Wakanohō was formed as a combination of Wakanohana II and Taihō's names.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.

Fighting style[edit]

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.[5] 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[edit]

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 two bags of marijuana, a rolled joint, a pipe and two Russian cigarettes from a Russian and a black man for 20,000 yen in a club in Roppongi. Police had 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.[6]

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.[7] He could have faced up to five years in prison or deportation from Japan.[8] 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.[9][10] 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.[11] He responded by filing a lawsuit for unfair dismissal against the Association.[12]

In an odd twist, Wakanoho had his kesho-mawashi, ceremonial apron, sponsored by the Japanese Drug Abuse Prevention Center.[13][14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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[edit]

During a press conference on 29 September 2008 Wakanoho claimed he was forced to accept bribes to forfeit sumo matches.[17] 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.[18] In an interview for the tabloid he claimed that ozeki Kotoōshū and jūryō wrestler Kasuganishiki had asked him to throw matches against them.[19] Both wrestlers denied the allegations. Wakanoho also called sumo a "show" and a "circus."[20] In another instalment for the same magazine he made similar allegations against ozeki Kaio and Chiyotaikai, who also denied the claims.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] 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.[23] The magazine responded by saying his retraction "(did) not make any sense and cannot be thought of as true."[23]

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.

Post-sumo career[edit]

In 2010, Gagloev began playing college football for Webber International University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in Florida.[24] He later transferred to the top-level program at the University of South Florida (USF) as a walk-on in 2012 and sat out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.[25] However, after USF suffered a three-win season, the entire coaching staff was replaced by a new staff who chose to cut Gagloev from the team.[26] After USF, he received a scholarship from Warner University, another NAIA school in Florida where he switched to offensive line. The next year he decided to forgo his final year of eligibility at Warner to pursue the NFL.[26]

During this time Gagloev's first marriage ended and former wife returned to her home in Russia with their daughter; he has since remarried an American.[26]

Career record[edit]

Wakanohō Toshinori[27]
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
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]


  1. ^ a b c d Buckton, Mark (December 2006). "Rikishi Interview:Wakanoho Toshinori". Sumo Fan Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  2. ^ Alford, Peter (2008-08-22). "Russian sumo caught with marijuana". The Australian. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  3. ^ Buckton, Mark (2007-11-06). "Game over for Kaio and Chiyotaikai?". Japan Times. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  4. ^ "Sumo dish smasher warned after tantrum". Yahoo News. 2008-05-19. Archived from the original on 2008-05-21. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  5. ^ Buckton, Mark (2008-01-29). "Hatsu Basho 2008- the changing of the guard". Japan Times. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  6. ^ "Arrested sumo wrestler Wakanoho suspected of smoking dope at stable". Mainichi Daily News. 2008-08-19. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  7. ^ "Russian sumo wrestler Wakanoho banned for life after drug arrest". The Canadian Press. 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2008-08-21. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Sumo slammed by first drugs scandal". CNN. 2008-08-18. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  9. ^ 【角界大麻汚染】元若ノ鵬を釈放 起訴猶予の公算 (in Japanese). Sankei Shimbun. 2008-09-08. Archived from the original on September 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  10. ^ "Expelled Russian wrestler retracts claims of sumo bribes, match-fixing". Japan Times. 2008-11-29. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  11. ^ "Wakanoho begs to return to sumo". Japan Today. 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  12. ^ "Wakanoho sues sumo association for unfair dismissal after drug arrest". Mainichi Daily News. 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-10-06. [dead link]
  13. ^ "The reformation of sumo based on the Wakanoho incident". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  14. ^ "Wakanoho picture". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  15. ^ 大麻の元若ノ鵬、東前頭8枚目から削除…秋場所番付発表 (in Japanese). Yomiuri Shimbun. 2008-09-01. Retrieved 2008-09-01. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Criticism builds over 'lenient' punishment". Daily Yomiuri Online. 2009-02-04. Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  17. ^ "Fired Russian wrestler rocks sumo world with match-fixing claims". Japan Today. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-09-29. [permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Lewis, Leo (2008-09-30). "Disgraced wrestler Wakanoho to lift lid on sumo 'rigged bouts and drug abuse'". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  19. ^ "Bulgarian star faces fixed bout allegation". AFP. 2008-10-06. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  20. ^ Wilson, Steve (2008-10-06). "Kotooshu, 'sumo's David Beckham', accused of bout-fixing by fellow wrestler". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  21. ^ 大海&魁皇「週刊現代」訴えない…八百長改めて否定 (in Japanese). Sports Hochi. 2008-10-15. Archived from the original on October 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  22. ^ 元若ノ鵬が週刊誌での告発を一部否定 (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  23. ^ a b c "Expelled Russian wrestler retracts claims of sumo bribes, match-fixing". Japan Times. 2008-11-29. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  24. ^ Gunning, John (11 November 2010). "Turning over a new leaf / Expelled Russian rikishi resurfaces on Fla. gridiron with lofty goal". Daily Yomiuri Online. Archived from the original on 11 November 2010. 
  25. ^ http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/bulls/content/yes-russian-sumo-wrestler-usf-football-team
  26. ^ a b c Ryan Collins, http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2014/8/28/6077961/sumo-wrestler-soslan-gagloev-nfl-profile Sumo on the Offense, SB Nation, August 28, 2014
  27. ^ "Wakanohō Toshinori Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 

External links[edit]