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Wakanohana Kanji I, Japanese sumo wrestler, died from kidney cancer. he was , 82

Wakanohana Kanji I  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 ozeki Takanohana Kenshi and he was the uncle of Takanohana Koji and Wakanohana Masaru  died from kidney cancer. he was , 82. He won ten top division yusho 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.

(若乃花 幹士 Wakanohana Kanji?, March 16, 1928 – September 1, 2010)

Contents

Career

He was born in Aomori 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 Dohyo no Oni, or Devil of the Dohyo 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 ozeki after that tournament. He won his first top division championship in May 1956. Shortly before the following tournament his four year old son 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 kesho mawashi of the former Futabayama to perform his first dohyo-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 Taiho 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

After retirement he set up his own training stable, Futagoyama, which produced a string of top wrestlers, including ozeki Takanohana (his brother) and Wakashimazu, and yokozuna Wakanohana II and Takanosato. He was also head of the Japan Sumo Association from 1988 to 1992. 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. 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.[6]

Fighting style

Wakanohana was a noted technician, and his trademark was his overarm throwing techniques.[6] 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.

Top division record

Note: The Osaka tournament resumed in 1953. The Kyushu tournament was first held in 1957, and the Nagoya tournament in 1958.

Wakanohana Kanji I[7]
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
1950 West Maegashira #18
11–4
F
x East Maegashira #9
10–5
x East Maegashira #4
4–11
x
1951 East Maegashira #7
11–4
F
x East Maegashira #1
8–7
x East Komusubi
7–8
x
1952 West Komusubi
5–10
x West Maegashira #4
5–10
x West Maegashira #9
10–5
x
1953 West Maegashira #3
8–7
East Maegashira #1
8–7
East Maegashira #1
8–7
x West Komusubi
8–7
x
1954 West Sekiwake
8–7
O
East Sekiwake
9–6
East Sekiwake
9–6
x West Sekiwake
11–4
O
x
1955 East Sekiwake
7–7–1draw
West Sekiwake
10–4–1draw
West Sekiwake
8–7
x West Sekiwake
10–4–1draw
T
x
1956 East Ōzeki
13–2
East Ōzeki
12–3–P
East Ōzeki
12–3–P
x East Ōzeki
12–2–1
x
1957 East Ōzeki
11–4
East Ōzeki
10–5
East Ōzeki
11–4
x East Ōzeki
11–4
East Ōzeki
12–3
1958 East Ōzeki
13–2
East Yokozuna
12–3
West Yokozuna
11–4
East Yokozuna
13–2
East Yokozuna
14–1
East Yokozuna
12–2–1draw
1959 East Yokozuna
14–1
East Yokozuna
12–3
East Yokozuna
14–1–P
West Yokozuna
11–4
West Yokozuna
14–1
East Yokozuna
11–4
1960 West Yokozuna
0–3–12
East Yokozuna
15–0
East Yokozuna
13–2
East Yokozuna
13–2
East Yokozuna
13–2
East Yokozuna
5–4–6
1961 West Yokozuna
12–3
Sat out due to injury West Yokozuna
10–5
East Yokozuna
3–4–8
West Yokozuna
10–5
East Yokozuna
11–4
1962 East Yokozuna
11–4
West Yokozuna
0–2–13
East Yokozuna
Retired
0–0–15
x x x
Record given as win-loss-absent    Championship Retired Demoted from makuuchi

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